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Lawmakers divided on Syria

Kinzinger backs military action; Bustos undecided

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, makes his opening statements Thursday afternoon on the opening of the Thomson prison.

The issue over Syria is not falling along Washington’s usual partisan lines.

The Sauk Valley’s Republican congressman is backing President Barack Obama’s push for a military strike against Syria, while the local Democratic congresswoman is undecided.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, has gone national with his support for Obama’s effort, unusual for a congressman elected with heavy tea party backing. His 16th District includes Lee and Ogle counties.

On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Kinzinger said he reached out to the White House and offered to help build support for military action. But he said he didn’t hear back. 

“Look, I think it’s going to be very difficult for [Obama] to get votes, and I think this goes back, not just to the issue itself, but you can’t begin to build a relationship with Congress for the first time when you need their support on something like this,” Kinzinger said on the show.

“So now we find ourselves in a situation where, I think, the president has made the decision correctly that the cost of using chemical weapons should far exceed the benefit that anybody gains from it, and he’s trying to build a relationship with Congress and there’s a trust deficit,” said Kinzinger, a major in the Air National Guard. 

In a statement Monday, 17th District Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people, including hundreds of children, should not be tolerated. 

“However, many questions remain before we can determine the most appropriate course of action,” said Bustos, who represents Whiteside County. “The president was right to include Congress in the decision, and we must continue to debate the best response, if any, by our country.”

She said she had spoken with a “wide range” of constituents about the issue. 

The Senate is slated to decide Wednesday, and a House vote is expected next week.

Both of Illinois’ senators, Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, support military action in Syria.

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