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Where North Carolina’s Congressional Members Stand On Syria

photo of Congress
Lawrence Jackson,

Several of North Carolina’s members of Congress have issued statements about  U.S. involvement in Syria. The statements follow a chemical weapons attack which the U.S. says was carried out by the Assad regime in Damascus on August 21. More than 1,400 people were reported killed in the attack.

Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, as well as several Representatives have made the following statements. We'll update this post with additional statements as they come in.

Richard Burr

Republican Senator Burr released a statement on Wednesday, August 28, before President Barack Obama gave a speech on the issue on Saturday, and before the U.S. Government declassified its intelligence assessment concerning the use of chemical weapons. In the statement, Burr says that people should be outraged at the Syrian regime’s actions and endorses military action by the U.S. and NATO (excerpted):

It is time for the United States and our NATO allies to take necessary, punitive military action against the Syrian regime and send a clear signal to its leadership, and others in the region who may be contemplating using weapons of this nature, that there are consequences for these actions.

Walter Jones

Republican Walter Jones, the state’s 3rd District Representative, spoke out against the use of military force in Syria without a Congressional vote. He made his position clear on August 28, before President Obama spoke on the issue. In a statement, he said:

For too long, the legislature’s responsibility to authorize military force has been overlooked. It is time that we uphold the Constitution, which makes it clear in Article 1, Section 8 that Congress alone holds the power to declare war.

Kay Hagan

Within hours of President Obama’s speech Saturday, Democratic Senator Kay Hagan responded to the issue with a statement saying the best way forward would be for Obama to seek Congressional approval for military actions (excerpted):

The international community cannot allow this to happen without serious consequences. I believe seeking Congressional authority is the appropriate way forward.

G. K. Butterfield

On September 1, Democratic Representative G. K. Butterfield of the first Districtissued a statement saying that he is considering the situation very seriously, but did not reveal how he would vote. The entire statement said:

I’m deeply troubled by the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians in Syria.  As a Member of Congress, authorizing the use of military force is one of our most important responsibilities and it should not be taken lightly.  This situation deserves careful consideration and I look forward to a thorough debate in the Congress.

George Holding

Republican Congressman George Holding, who represents North Carolina’s 13th District and is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement on September 1. In it, he said it is unclear how a ‘limited strike’ would deter the Assad regime and that Congress should debate the issue before he could cast his vote. After the House Foreign Affairs hearing on September 5, Holding released a follow-up statement that said he did not approve the use of military actionin Syria (excerpted):

I am more skeptical than ever about President Obama’s plan to bomb Syria. For Secretary Kerry to say an attack on Syria – which when you get right down to it amounts to an act of war – is a limited strike, and then add we ‘are not fighting to win,’ doesn’t make a bit of sense...nothing I heard convinced me it is necessary to send one American soldier into battle.

David Price

Fourth District Democratic Representative David Price issued a statement on September 1, following President Obama’s announcement that Congressional approval would be sought for the use of military action in Syria. In it, he said (excerpted):

The Assad regime's heinous acts violate both our international laws and our human conscience and demand a response, both because of the suffering they have inflicted on the Syrian people and because of the precedent that inaction would set for the international community… I applaud the President for seeking approval from Congress even though he is not legally required to do so, and I will insist any resolution hold the Administration to its promise that retaliation will not be a prelude to American boots on the ground.

Howard Coble

Republican Representative Howard Coble of the sixth District released a statement September 3, preceding the House vote on the use of military action in Syria. He said he did not believe it was necessary for President Obama to seek Congressional approval and would vote against the use of military action (excerpted):

As of right now, I am leaning towards voting against the use of any American military assets against Syria for several reasons.  First, the costs of even a limited action will be enormous, and we cannot afford it… Second, it appears that if we pursue this course, we will be going it alone…. Third, it appears we will be a day late and dollar short in taking any meaningful action against the Assad regime. Unless I learn something that changes my mind during the resolution debate, I plan to vote against the measure.

Renee Elmers

On September 3 the state’s 2nd District Representative, Republican Renee Elmers, released a statement opposing the use of military action in Syria. It said (excerpted):

I cannot support military action against Syria at this time. Our focus must be on rebuilding our economy here at home after struggling for nearly five years under the President Obama's economy.  Unless further evidence shows a clear threat to our national interests and a clearly defined vision of victory, this will remain my position moving forward.

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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