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N.M. delegation: Obama right to seek approval

WASHINGTON — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation on Saturday said President Barack Obama is correct to request congressional approval for any U.S. military strikes in Syria.

“I welcome a full, national debate over the president’s call for military action,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. “We owe it to the American people to carefully consider all of the implications of any action our military might take in response to the atrocities in Syria.”

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., is the only member of the New Mexico delegation who has expressed outright opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria. He reiterated that opposition Saturday, but praised Obama’s call for congressional approval.

“I commend the president on his decision to request congressional approval before committing the U.S. to action in Syria,” Pearce said. “I still believe intervention in Syria is a wrong and costly course. However, I look forward to reviewing all related materials, and to a thorough and detailed debate in Congress, where the issue should be decided.”


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Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., could not be reached for comment Saturday.

In a Journal article published Tuesday several delegation Democrats signaled they were open to some sort of military action in Syria. But all five members of the delegation said earlier this week that Obama should consult with Congress before authorizing any military strikes in Syria.

Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday he “remained skeptical about further U.S. involvement in a Syrian civil war.”

“The president’s decision to seek congressional approval for military action in Syria is the right call and one I have consistently advocated in accordance with our Constitution and the War Powers Act,” Udall said. “The use of chemical weapons by Assad and his regime is deplorable and deserves our condemnation, but in a representative democracy, it is the duty of the U.S. Congress to approve any military action that would enter our armed forces into hostilities overseas where there is not an imminent threat to our national security.”

On Monday, Udall told the Journal there should be “consequences” for using chemical weapons, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is reported to have done.

“I remain opposed to arming the rebel forces and deeply concerned about Americans becoming further involved in the Syrian civil war, but I also believe the use of chemical weapons is an atrocity that must have consequences,” Udall said Monday. “The president and Congress should consult about an appropriate response, in collaboration with the international community, and if military strikes are proposed as an option, Congress should vote on whether to authorize the use of force.”

On Monday, Heinrich’s spokeswoman, Whitney Potter, told the Journal the senator thought a limited strike deserved debate.

“He believes the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and warrants careful consideration of limited, military action by the United States,” Potter said. “However, Senator Heinrich has very serious concerns about entangling our troops in another Middle Eastern war and would strongly oppose putting U.S. troops in Syria.”