By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
The two congressmen who represent parts of Kern County were not ready Tuesday to throw their support behind President Barack Obama's call for military action in Syria.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, told The Californian the meeting he attended Tuesday at the White House with the president and congressional leaders was both productive and informative, but he wants to see more information about the details of the plan and an assessment of potential ramifications to allies in the region.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., endorsed the president’s plan. But McCarthy wasn’t ready to make that leap. At least not yet.
McCarthy said he has concerns that the president’s mission and its objectives remain unclear.
“I like to have everything before me before I make this kind of judgment,” he said.
In addition, congressional votes that involve the use of military assets are particularly important, he said.
“When you vote for military action, it’s a different vote,” he said. “I don’t like to put politics in this.”
And while he believes the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people, McCarthy said it’s happened several times before.
“Why is this different?” he asked.
The president must continue to make the case for military action to the American people and the Congress, he said.
Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, also expressed a desire for more information. Valadao couldn’t be reached, but his office sent the following statement:
“The current situation in Syria is very concerning to me. The apparent use of chemical weapons by Syria against their own citizens is deplorable.
“However, I believe the President should not have drawn a line in the sand without a plan for how the United States would respond if that line were to be crossed. Our credibility throughout the world is our greatest asset and strength is our best tool for peace.
“I agree that the President should get approval from Congress, as required by our constitution, in the coming days.
“This past Sunday, I flew to Washington to attend two classified intelligence briefings (House Intelligence Committee Briefing and the White House Interagency Classified Briefing) in order to get the most recent information regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria.
“All military and diplomatic options should be on the table. We must carefully evaluate all aspects of the situation and define clear objectives. Any decision to act militarily should not be taken lightly, especially if it involves placing the men and women of our armed services in harm’s way.
“I will continue to evaluate the situation in Syria and act in the best interest of the security of my constituents and the American people.”