Congress Cautious as Putin Takes Lead on Syria Deal
In the midst of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime accepting Russia's proposal to confiscate its chemical weapons and place them under the the control of the international community to prevent a U.S. strike on the middle eastern country, members of Congress appear relieved but circumspect about Russia's involvement in the proposal.
Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox and Friends on Tuesday morning:
I think this came up at the G-20 summit. Remember the president went to the summit of all 20 leaders and he was essentially snubbed. He showed no leadership in the international community. When it comes to Putin, he’s putting forth an idea that could divert military intervention in Syria. Having said that, we’re all very skeptical of the Russians. We don’t trust them normally. But I do think there is one country that could influence Assad and Syria to stop using these weapons and turn them over to the international community to be secured and destroyed—and its really Putin. So it’s in his hands to some extent and I think we should look at that issue.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) proposed a bill last week that would would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face a U.S. military strike. Manchin applauded the president's diplomacy on Tuesday morning, telling Fox and Friends, "I’m not saying we trust Syria but if you have an international community, I mean c’mon. We we’re trying to go it alone. We had nobody with us."
"Even this morning, France said they were going to introduce a resolution to the U.N. and start that process so we didn’t even have them. So we had to reach out to the international community," Manchin explained. "The chemical weapons commission has 191 conutries that are co-signers, so why not use that force of the international community to put that pressure on them? Don’t let Russia or count on Russia to take the lead."
McCaul, however, disagreed with Manchin's assessment on the president's diplomacy in the Middle East.
"I think the president has brought us to a fatal foreign policy in the Middle East. He’s brought this to us and to a vote in the Congress. But I do see [the Russian proposal] as an interesting development in the Congress that could possibly bring a good outcome," said McCaul. "Remember little wars start big wars. And an unbelievably small step could be an unbelievably disastrous and a really bad idea for America."
"The way they have this set up is once we attack and once we strike, we don’t know what the consequences will be," he explained. "We know the cables we’ve intercepted from Iran indicate they will attack our U.S. embassy in Iraq. Hezbollah will light up. "
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told Breitbart News he believes the president has "never wavered" in the entire process with Syria. Cummings, along with other Congressional members, was briefed on the Russian proposal Monday night and said, "I think it’s a proposal that’s hopefully has some validity not just something where Russia is trying to stall or delay or distract the president’s mission or his intent."
Cummings added, "Secretary Rice made it clear in our meeting that they were going to flesh it out and figure out if it's real and what they can do with regard to it. We’ll see. There’s a good opening. It’s a good opportunity."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a staunch supporter of a full military strike against the Assad regime, told Sky News of the proposal from Russia, "Since there were people who were just in figuring out if there were chemical weapons used or not, I'm sure they could secure these areas and that way it would be a major step forward in their disposal. Again, put me down as skeptical, but obviously, we can't ignore the possibility," he said. "But I'd also like to point out that I think we still need to begin to provide aid to the Free Syrian Army, so that we change the momentum and negotiate a settlement that leads to Bashar al Assad's departure."
According to reports, the White House agrees with McCain and wants to provide a transition for Assad to eventually step down. President Barack Obama will be addressing the nation Tuesday night regarding the administration's plan for Syria.