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Daily Comet - Local Lawmakers Want More Details

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By Jean-Paul Arguello

The local congressional delegation is still on the fence over whether to authorize limited military strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Legislators and President Obama's administration will be debating that decision in the coming days, and Congress could vote to strike as early as next week when it returns from recess.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she believes a punitive strike on Syria is a "serious matter" and the president is right to seek congressional approval before doing so.

"I will carefully examine the facts in the coming days as Congress debates what the appropriate action is," Landrieu said.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, said any action against Syria must be considered in terms of what is in the best interest of the U.S. and its allies in the region, especially Israel.

"The authorization to use limited military force should depend on clear military objectives and policy goals, and I look forward to the debate after these details have been laid out by the administration," said Scalise, who represents southern portions of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., will be in Washington early Wednesday morning to meet with the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member, for a briefing from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a member of the intelligence community and a White House representative, in a classified discussion on Syria.

Vitter said he is leaning toward voting against attacking Syria but still wants to participate in discussions with Congress and the administration and hear from top military leadership before making up his mind.

"I am very hesitant about the president's proposal and am fairly cynical that (a precision missile strike) would have significant effect," Vitter said.

Vitter said he will base his decision on whether the attacks will have a positive impact.

The senator also warned it is dangerous to set a precedent of intervening in another country's civil war every time chemical weapons are used.

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, attended classified briefings over the weekend and said he is "actively monitoring" developments in the debate over attacking Syria. He represents northern parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

"There are still many questions left unanswered so I will continue to engage with my colleagues in D.C. as well as discuss this issue with the people of Louisiana."

Cassidy said America's founding fathers were clear that the president must consult Congress before taking military action and he is pleased that "Congress and the American people will have an opportunity to debate this issue."


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