Once again, we find ourselves on the verge of military conflict with a foreign nation.
We have many reasons to feel outrage and repulsion at events underway in Syria. Many believe, and the United Nations is now working to confirm, that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people. Secretary Kerry was right to say that "the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity."
The world must respond to these atrocities in Syria with a full understanding of the facts and with the full involvement of the international community and the United States Congress. In particular, we must reject the foolish idea that America should take military action before there is good international understanding of the facts. We remember the errors of Iraq. America should be the exemplar of good international behavior. We cannot be the unilateral enforcer of good behavior.
Together with 115 members of Congress -- including 98 Republicans and 17 Democrats -- I wrote President Obama this week to urge him to seek Congressional authorization prior to the use of military force in Syria. Our constitution obliges him to do so, and Congress stands ready to convene at his request to weigh the wisdom of any such military strike.
How Will Health Reform Affect Your Small Business?
Do you have questions about what health reform means for your small business? Would you like to know more about tax credits that could help you provide health insurance for your employees?
If so, please join my Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP) Workshop at 9 a.m. on Monday, September 30th at the East Brunswick Public Library, 2 Jean Walling Civic Center Drive in East Brunswick. Further details and information on how to RSVP are available online.
50 Years Later
On Wednesday, I joined tens of thousands of others at the Lincoln Memorial to recognize the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Today the march is remembered best for the speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave the call for universal civil rights its most powerful and urgent expression.
Another of that day's speakers was John Lewis, then the 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Community and now a longtime member of Congress. In his remarks yesterday, Rep. Lewis told what happened at the end of that famous day:
"After the ceremony was over, President Kennedy [who had been leery of the march] invited us back down to the White House. He met us, standing in the door of the Oval Office, and he was beaming like a proud father. As he shook the hands of each one of us, he said, you did a good job, you did a good job. And he said to Dr. King, you had a dream.
"Fifty years later we can ride anywhere we want to ride, we can stay where we want to stay. Those signs that said "white' and "colored' are gone, and you won't see them anymore except in a museum, in a book, on a video.
"But there are still invisible signs buried in the hearts in humankind that form a gulf between us. Too many of us still believe our differences define us instead of the divine spark that runs through all of human creation.
"The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida; the mass incarceration of millions of Americans; immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society; unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger, or the renewed struggle for voting rights.
"So I say to each of us today, we must never, ever give up. We must never, ever give in. We must keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize."
John Lewis, who remains a passionate activist, non-violent to his core, is a hero to many of us still today.
Member of Congress