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San Diego's Congressional Delegates Weigh In On Syria Strike

Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas of San Diego is shown in his official portrait.
Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas of San Diego is shown in his official portrait.

As Congress prepares to vote on President Barack Obama's request for military action in Syria, members of San Diego’s congressional delegation are weighing the prospects and consequences of U.S. involvement.

Darrell Issa (R-California)
Darrell Issa (R-California)
Susan Davis (D-Calif.)
Susan Davis (D-Calif.)
Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
Scott Peters (D-Calif.)
Scott Peters (D-Calif.)

A Senate panel on Wednesday approved Obama's resolution for force, and the measure now moves to a vote in the full Senate, which is likely to take place next week.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) reviewed classified documents and participated in a White House and Pentagon briefing on Sunday that he said outlined hard evidence that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people.

“I am now prepared, after careful consideration of these classified documents, to support President Obama’s request to use limited and targeted strikes to deter the future use of chemical weapons,” Vargas said in a released statement.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) said he remains undecided on approving military action.

"President Obama must present a clear plan focused on effective humanitarian intervention or our national security interests,” Issa said in a statement issued Monday.

"Tens of thousands have been killed by the Assad regime in this brutal conflict -- relatively few by chemical weapons. A military response that places an arbitrary focus on such weapons will do little to protect civilians and sends a deeply misguided signal that totalitarian regimes should only use conventional weapons to carry out mass murder," Issa stated.

Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) said a congressional debate is the right thing to do.

“It is unconscionable for a government to use chemical weapons against its own people,” Davis said in a released statement. “Making a decision on what is in the best interests of the American people will take thoughtful and cautious deliberation.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who recently returned from a trip to the Syria-Jordan border, did not respond to requests for an interview with KPBS, but told the Washington Times on Tuesday that he doesn’t see evidence that the Obama Administration has the right objectives in mind.

Hunter tweeted on Tuesday that Obama would be “inviting impeachment” if he strikes Syria without Congressional approval.

“I think he’s breaking the law if he strikes without congressional approval,” Hunter told The Washington Times. “And if he proceeds without Congress providing that authority, it should be considered an impeachable offense.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) released a statement that San Diegans paid a heavy price in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, and he looks forward to a fully informed discussion.

“I will need to determine our intended objective, the specific actions to be taken, the expected response, our exit strategy, and how these efforts will protect American interests both in the region and here at home."

Peters has been involved in phone briefings over Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, and plans to return to Washington early, according to his staff. Congress is scheduled to officially reconvene on Sept. 9.

Spokespersons for each of the congressional representatives said comments and concerns by constituents were being closely monitored via social media and phone calls, but none had planned any special town hall meetings or events for public comment.

A public opinion poll released Tuesday shows little support for U.S. military strikes in Syria. The Pew Research Center poll found that 48 percent of adults are against military strikes while 29 percent say they are in favor.

Contact Information for San Diego Congressional Representatives

Rep. Susan Davis

2700 Adams Ave., Suite 102, San Diego, 92116

Local office: (619) 280-5353

Washington office: (202) 225-2040

Rep. Duncan Hunter

El Cajon: 1611 N. Magnolia Ave., No. 310

Escondido: 333 S. Juniper St., No. 110

Temecula: 41000 Main St.

Local office: (619) 448-5201

Washington office: (202) 225-5672

Rep. Darrell Issa

1800 Thibodo Road, No. 310, Vista, 92081

Local office: (760) 599-5000

Washington office: (202) 225-3906

Rep. Scott Peters

4350 Executive Drive, Suite 105, San Diego, 92122

Local office: (858) 455-5550

Washington office: (202) 225-0508

Rep. Juan Vargas

333 F St., Suite A, Chula Vista, 91910

Local office: (619) 422-5963

Washington office: (202) 225-8045