Obama doesn’t change minds among O.C. lawmakers

11 Sep
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Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington in this file photo from Thursday after a closed-door briefing with national security officials on the situation in Syria.

WASHINGTON – Orange County’s representatives held their positions regarding a potential military strike in Syria, yet expressed cautious optimism following President Barack Obama’s speech that working with Russia could yield progress on commandeering Syria’s chemical weapons.

Two influential members urged swift action on the diplomatic front.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “I have serious concerns about the president’s plan to attack Syria, which I outlined for the secretary of state at my House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last week and spoke about at my town hall meeting in Chino Hills this past weekend.

“To date, the administration has not satisfied my concerns. We now have another option, (one) that will preclude the involvement of U.S. military personnel. Diplomatic attempts to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under international control should now be pursued aggressively, while keeping a clear eye on the motives and intentions of all,” Royce said in a statement after Obama’s the president’s remarks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Intelligence Committee and supports military intervention, said in a statement: Tuesday night: “The president delivered a straightforward speech tonight that directly outlined the current situation in Syria. He asked that a vote by Congress to authorize military force against the Assad regime be delayed so a strategy could be developed with Russia and the United Nations Security Council that would subsequently eliminate Syria’s deadly chemical weapons program. I believe this is a good path forward.”

Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine, was optimistic about a diplomatic solution. “That would be great, because I don’t want to see us start getting into military action and involve ourselves in military action in Syria. If the president can save face and not do that, through this Russian proposal, that’s a far better alternative,” he said.

But, he remained unconvinced by the president’s speech regarding military intervention. “No new information, no new arguments, just a different package and I’m completely unmoved,” he said after the address. Campbell has opposed any resolution that would authorize a limited military strike against Syria as punishment for its use of chemical weapons.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, welcomed a delay in military action. “Well, because I’m not anxious to have American forces conducting military actions in Syria in the first place, a delay is better than no delay. I wish him luck and it sounds like he wants to work with the Russians, which I think is a positive thing,” he said.

“My guess is that he has built up the expectation of a military action. He had to either order the military action or explain why he wasn’t, and that’s what this is all about tonight – delaying it and explain why.” The speech did not change his position opposing military intervention.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said Tuesday night that Issa does not support the president’s current proposal for intervention and that he is not opposed to diplomacy but skeptical that it will yield meaningful results.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, has been undecided. “The latest details of the situation in Syria seem to indicate that a diplomatic solution is possible,” he said in a statement. “What remains to be seen, however, is whether such a solution is workable. Like President Obama, I have always believed that a diplomatic solution is the preferred outcome.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement: “President Barack Obama’s direct address to the American people tonight was a welcome one.

“However, I remain concerned about the consequences of military action. A limited strike could quickly lead us into direct engagement in Syria. Degradation of specific assets may not solve the underlying crisis, nor truly deter the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again. I believe it is necessary to work with the international community within the legal frameworks we have agreed to in order to address the illegal use of chemical weapons.

“That is why I am encouraged that President Obama has embraced Russia’s apparent step towards diplomacy and I look forward to the outcome of Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Sergey Labrov in Geneva this week. Diplomacy is always preferable to military action, but also I believe that hard deadlines must be made and met and peaceful conversations cannot be used as a delay tactics,” Sanchez said.

Contact the writer: Register reporters David Hood, Elizabeth Held and Matthew Fleming contributed to this report.



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