by Steven Hale
As Congress works toward a vote on President Barack Obama's call for a military strike in Syria, members of Tennessee's congressional delegation have been weighing in on the matter. So far, the group is mostly split between those leaning toward voting no, and those still withholding judgment. Only Sen. Bob Corker has clearly expressed support for some version of intervention.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn told CBS This Morning earlier today (see video above) that she is leaning against a strike in Syria, repeatedly raising concerns about a "lack of definition" in the mission. Yesterday, Nooga.com's James Harrison spoke to Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who remained unconvinced about the president's case for military action after weekend briefings, and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who said he is mostly hearing opposition from his constituents, but that he remains undecided.
Quotes from both, by way of Nooga.com, after the jump:
DesJarlais, who traveled to Washington, D.C., for briefings on the matter over the weekend, said he returned to Tennessee Monday lacking answers and clarity on the issue. In an interview with Nooga.com, the congressman said he opposes a strike and listed a variety of reasons.
"My questions were, what is our plan and what is our endgame?" DesJarlais said. "And is there a direct threat to America and its allies? … I don't think there's any guarantee that this conflict won't escalate, and I think there would absolutely be unintended consequences. I think it's shortsighted to launch a limited strike without expecting it."
On Tuesday, Fleischmann said that he had not yet decided if he could support military action in Syria, but added that he would base his decision off of input received from constituents.
"So far, the overwhelming opinion of my constituents—and this is subject to change—is to not get involved in a military way in Syria," the congressman said in an interview with Nooga.com. "I'm still listening; I'm still asking people to call in. This is a very important vote, and this is absolutely something that I'm going to continue to do up until the time of the vote—listening to my constituents."
As of last night, USA Today reports, the Senate's reworked version of a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria would set a 60-day deadline for military action and explicitly prohibit the use of ground forces. That resolution, which is much narrower than the one initially submitted by the Obama administration, was drafted by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Corker, the committee's ranking Republican.
Corker noted that the report also requires the Obama administration to produce a report detailing U.S. support for vetted, moderate opposition groups in Syria.
"I look forward to the input from my colleagues on the committee and in Congress who will have an opportunity to weigh in on what we've produced," Corker said. "This is one of the most serious matters that comes before the Congress, so as we proceed to a potentially defining vote next week, the president and his administration must continue to vigorously make their case to the American people."
The committee was expected to vote on the resolution today, but reports this morning say that vote could be delayed.
CNN has a breakdown on how U.S. House and Senate members are currently expected to vote on military action. That tally has four members of Tennessee's delegation voting no, six still undecided (including Sen. Lamar Alexander and Nashville's Rep. Jim Cooper), and Corker as the only supporter.
UPDATE: The Chattanooga Times Free-Press reports that the next Republican congressman from the Fourth District, Jim Tracy, says Congress should vote against the president's plan for military intervention in Syria.