(09-04) 15:47 PDT Washington – Democrats in the Bay Area congressional delegation and California's House Republicans remain very reluctant to give President Obama authorization to attack Syria.
Rep. Jared Huffman, San Rafael: Leans No.
Huffman called for a "a fundamentally different approach" than President Obama. "So far we're basically being presented with only two choices: support immediate, unilateral action by the U.S. without a clear sense of where it takes us and the region, or, you do nothing and be accused of acquiescing in the use of chemical weapons."
Huffman wants to try to get a broader coalition of allies.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, Stockton: Leans No.
"Right now I'm inclined to be against the president's request," McNerney said, "but I want to hear the House debate, I want to see what people are saying and I want to see what we are voting on specifically. That's going to be the turning point."
McNerney said he was concerned that "the use of violence in this situation may make the situation worse." He wants "significant" international support and thinks Obama should wait for the results of the U.N. weapons inspection.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: "Wary but Still Examining"
Lofgren sent letter to the administration outlining numerous concerns. In an interview she said, "We don't yet have a clear understanding of what the strategy is, what is to be achieved by military action and the nature of that action, and what happens after that."
She said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members in a conference call, "This is war. You can't control every aspect."
Lofgren asked what the administration would do if chemical weapons are used again, and if the United States is "appointed" to enforce the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention banning the weapons. (Syria didn't sign.)
"It's fine for Turkey to say, 'Go ahead, attack them,'" Lofgren said. "Are they going to join with us. Are the Saudis gong to join with us?"
Lofgren disputed parallels with Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, saying Syria is using chemical weapons to attack its own people, whereas Iran's intent would be to acquire nuclear weapons for use outside Iran.
Lofgren described herself as "very hawkish" on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but said some fear that Iran might conclude from a U.S. attack on Syria that "the only thing to keep them safe is to acquire nuclear weapons and become like North Korea, immune from invasion and attack."
She said she deeply respects Pelosi but "cannot ever delegate my decision to her."
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: Dubious
Eshoo joined with Lofgren in a long list of questions about the wisdom of a strike.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove (Sacramento County): No
Garamendi gave five reasons for voting no in an interview. Among them: there is "not even a 50/50 chance this will stop Assad from doing another chemical attack if he feels his regime is threatened with extinction."
Another: there is no assurance the chemical weapons would not get in the hands of the other bad guys after a U.S. attack, especially if the regime is weakened further.
"If we knock out command and control systems in Syria, what assurance is there that some colonel in charge of a chemical weapons depot who is no longer under the control of the regime, doesn't sell the weapons," Garamendi said. "Or if we attack the depot or surrounding area, we may very well wind up with the depot not being defensible. Those are are big, big questions. Are we going to, in this attack, make chemical weapons more available to bad guys?"
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez: Undecided
Miller could no be reached for an interview, but has issued statements demanding a much narrower war resolution than the administration submitted.
"The debate is over whether or not the evidence of Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria is clear and convincing and, if so, whether a limited and narrow action in response to such a gross violation of international norms is warranted," Miller's statement said. "The President has asked us to debate this issue and we will do so with the utmost seriousness that it requires."
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Leans No
Honda issued a statement saying Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people is "an intolerable violation of the Geneva Protocol, but it is only the latest chapter in a long-running civil war that has no simple resolution."
Honda said an "extended U.S. intervention" could make the situation worse, including: "the spread of violence to neighboring states, an increase in the al Qaeda presence in Syria, and the overwhelming impact refugees are having on their neighbors." Honda said he thinks that "true stability in the region will only be achieved through long-term diplomatic commitment and broad international support."
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: No
"We must respond to the heinous use of chemical weapons," she said in a statement, "but the danger of a military strike and its unintended consequences, including the possibility of further loss of life and the danger of escalated violence in the region demand that we work with the international community and consider all the alternatives"
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena: Uncommitted
An aide said Thompson "is continuing to monitor the evolving situation and review intelligence reports. He does not take the decision to authorize the use military force lightly and will not commit to voting one way or the other until he knows exactly what the authorization bill will look like, and has reviewed all the intelligence."
Thompson also said an international coalition "must be part of any possible military response."
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Yes
Returning from a trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan, where he was briefed by the military, Swalwell said in a statement that Assad's use of chemical weapons "must have serious consequences so it does not happen again. I will consider a limited U.S. military response." Swalwell does not support the use of ground troops and wants a narrower war resolution that limits the scope and duration of U.S. involvement.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo could not be reached.