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U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) weighed in on the Syria conflict over the weekend.
Heinrich released the following statement on the president’s plan to seek congressional approval for military action against the Assad regime in Syria:
“I want to commend President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for military action against the Assad regime in Syria. His choice represents a return to a more Constitutionally sound and serious approach to the issue of when American force is justified and appropriate.
“As I have said in the past, I am firmly against putting U.S. troops in harm’s way in Syria and I do not believe we should become directly involved in the Syrian Civil War. Additionally, I continue to oppose arming opposition groups that, too often, are working arm-in-arm with al-Qaida affiliates such as the Al-Nusra Front.
“However, having carefully reviewed the evidence, it is evident that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a broad scale against civilian non-combatants and even children. Assad has willfully committed war crimes against his own people. The question at hand is what to do about it.
“My decision on any resolution for the authorization of military force will be guided by what our country and the international community could hope to achieve through those actions. I believe that if America is to use military force it must not be an undefined and open-ended commitment, but rather a narrow and forceful action designed to minimize the illegal use of chemical weapons in the future.
“If those goals can be achieved, I would urge the President to make that case to the Congress and to the American people.”
Udall also issued a statement on the president’s announcement that he will not take military action in Syria without congressional approval:
“The President’s decision to seek congressional approval for military action in Syria is the right call and one I have consistently advocated in accordance with our Constitution and the War Powers Act.
“The use of chemical weapons by Assad and his regime is deplorable and deserves our condemnation, but in a representative democracy, it is the duty of the U.S. Congress to approve any military action that would enter our armed forces into hostilities overseas where there is not an imminent threat to our national security.
“I have worked with members of both parties in the Senate, through legislation and the appropriations process, to ensure the president seeks congressional approval before U.S. military force is used, and I will continue to assert that Congress must approve any force that places our service members into hostilities.
“The president must continue to make his case to the Congress and the American people, and I look forward to the debate we will have before any further action is taken. In the meantime, I remain skeptical about further U.S. involvement in a Syrian civil war and continue to oppose the arming of rebels who may be allied or affiliated with Al Qaida, and I believe that a concerted diplomatic effort must continue, as well as an effort to provide needed humanitarian aid.
“I will be evaluating the evidence and policy options as well as listening closely to the opinions of New Mexicans.”