Valley's congressional leaders want a say in any decision to attack Syria

The Fresno BeeAugust 30, 2013 

One and all, the Valley's congressional delegation deplores what is going on in Syria, but they are also united in saying President Barack Obama should consult Congress before taking any military action.

"I believe the president should consult with Congress, as required by the War Powers Act, in the coming days, and act decisively," said Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

Valadao's west-side Valley colleague, Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, echoed that thought, but using slightly softer language.

Costa -- a Democrat like Obama -- said it was his "hope that Congress will be consulted before any action is taken."

Beyond the Valley delegation, 115 House members -- including Granite Bay Republican Tom McClintock, whose district covers the sparsely populated eastern portioins of Madera and Fresno counties and all of Mariposa County -- sent a letter to Obama that said he had the "responsibility" to receive congressional authorization before attacking.

The letter was bipartisan.

Obama has said his is considering a military strike against Syria after intelligence reports indicated the Middle Eastern nation used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

The allegations are serious, local congressmen said.

"Allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime are serious and disturbing," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare.

Valadao said the situation "is very concerning to me. The apparent use of chemical weapons by Syria against their own citizens is deplorable."

But is Obama making the right strategic decision? Nunes, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, isn't sure.

"A limited missile strike, as President Obama seems to be considering, probably would not accomplish much, and a regime change strategy risks empowering al Qaeda," he said. "The president needs to take all this into account and consult closely with Congress before deciding how to respond."

Costa, however, said "if a military response is necessary, it must be a limited, coordinated response from an international coalition. The ultimate resolution to this is and must be a political solution, not a military one."

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who has not made any press statements or posted anything on Twitter or other social media related to the latest Syria developments, did not return a phone call seeking comment. McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican and House majority whip, has a district that includes Porterville and the High Sierra regions of Tulare County.

Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at jellis@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6320.

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