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How the Votes are Shaping Up on Syria

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has proven to be the most vocal intervention foe, asserting that while he condemns the introduction of chemical weapons into the Syrian conflict there exists “no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) added that “America cannot afford another conflict that taxes our resources without achieving goals that advance American interests and I will not support authorizing military action against Syria at this time.” 

Intervention supporters also are stepping up. Reid called the use of military force against Syria “justified and necessary.”

“I believe the United States has a moral obligation as well as a national security interest in defending innocent lives against such atrocities and in enforcing international norms such as the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “Assad must be held accountable for his heinous acts and the world looks to us for leadership.”

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) characterized Assad’s actions as “shocking and deplorable.”

“Without putting American troops on the ground, the atrocities in Syria require a strong response that will prevent them from happening again and ensure that Syria's chemical weapons stockpile does not fall into the hands of terrorists and further destabilize the Middle East,” she said.

The message is a little more mixed on the House side. Boehner, who regularly tangles with the president on any number of lesser issues, said in supporting the White House position, “the use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the U.S. has the capability.”

Cantor was more emphatic, maintaining that the U.S. “has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest.”

“Bashar Assad's Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, is the epitome of a rogue state, and it has long posed a direct threat to American interests and to our partners,” he said. “The ongoing civil war in Syria has enlarged this threat.”

Blue Dog Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said he opposes U.S. involvement “without strong international support.”

“The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is reprehensible but without attainable objectives tied to a clear strategy, direct military intervention by the U.S. is a mistake that will lead to numerous unforeseen consequences,” Schrader said. “We should continue to work with our international partners to end the violence in Syria through other means. Our nation has much bigger economic security issues at home that more greatly threaten our nation.”

Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), another foe, explained, “Frankly, I don’t think we need to get involved in another war in the Middle East.”

“After a decade of American involvement in the Middle East, I believe a majority of Northern Michigan’s citizens have grown tired of war and are weary of getting involved in another nation’s civil war,” he said.