Most of Kentucky's delegation leaning against military action against Syria

09/03/2013 01:54 PM

UPDATED: Kentucky’s U.S. representatives and senators are at least skeptical — and at most opposed — to military action against Syria even as President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry make their pitch to the American people and to Congress for a “limited” strike.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul took to the television airwaves on Sunday to decry a strike against Syria. While Paul applauded Obama for requesting Congressional approval, he said he expected the United States would strike regardless of what Congress does.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s position on a strike on Syria has been closely guarded. Over the weekend McConnell offered a statement that said President Obama would “benefit” from Congressional approval to strike.

McConnell met with Obama on Tuesday morning, and flew back to Kentucky shortly after to attend a town hall on health care in London with Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

McConnell’s spokesman sent a statement to Pure Politics after meeting with Obama on Tuesday that said he “appreciated” Obama’s briefing.

“I appreciate the President’s briefing today at the White House and would encourage him to continue updating the American people. While we are learning more about his plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is he thinks needs to be done—and can be accomplished—in Syria and the region,” McConnell said.

Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, who represents Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District, has not yet made up his mind on a military strike.

Guthrie, a West Point graduate, is scheduled to attend classified briefings on Syria when he returns to Congress on Monday. His spokeswoman Jennifer Sherman said that Guthrie is monitoring the situation from Kentucky and that he is talking with constituents at town hall events.

“In the coming days, I will listen carefully as President Obama makes the case for military action. There is no doubt that this is a big decision and a challenging time for our country. God Bless America and all of her allies,” Guthrie said on Facebook on Saturday after the president’s remarks.

Third District U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democrat in the delegation, told Pure Politics Tuesday that hasn’t fully made up his mind on the call for a strike, but that he would have to see more evidence American interest or allies are at risk before he would vote for action.

Yarmuth told Pure Politics that the United States’ international reputation and role as superpower alone is not enough in his mind to carry out an attack.

Hear more about what Yarmuth has to say on Syria on Tuesday’s edition of Pure Politics.

Fourth District U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie has said he is “vehemently opposed” to U.S. military strike against Syria. While the tea party favorite says the United States will be stronger for getting authorization to strike, he agreed with Paul and said he expects Obama is prepared to “violate it if we don’t agree with him.”

“I am vehemently opposed to U.S. military involvement in Syria. In June, I introduced HR 2507, the War Powers Protection Act of 2013, to block unauthorized U.S. military and paramilitary involvement in Syria. Since our national security interests in Syria are unclear, and because Syria poses no imminent threat, I plan to vote against authorizing the use of military force in Syria,” Massie told Pure Politics in a statement.

Fifth District U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers told Pure Politics that he has “great reservations about intervening in Syria” but stopped short of saying he is against a strike.

“I want to know precisely what the President’s goals are, how it will impact our allies, and what it will mean for American families. I anticipate a vote in the House next week and I am eager to see both the justification and the details of our military action plan,” Rogers said in a statement.

Sixth District Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr said he is against an attack on Syria in a newsletter he sent out on Sunday.

“(T)he United States should not intervene in Syria unless and until the President articulates sufficient justification and receives congressional approval. The President has not yet explained how intervention would advance America’s national security, nor clearly defined the specific outcome that U.S. actions would seek to achieve,” Barr said.

Barr, who already has at least three Democratic candidates seeking to challenge him in 2014, took to social media on Tuesday to reiterate the point that no justification, as he sees it, has been made to take military action.

“Voting to send troops into harm’s way is most solemn vote I can take. The case to take military action has not been made to do that,” Barr said on Twitter Tuesday.

U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield did not respond to requests for comment.

Congress is scheduled to return from recess on Sept. 9 when a debate and vote is scheduled.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



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