Santa Rosa Press Democrat- House Democrats from Northern California oppose Syria strategy
Sonoma County’s two Democratic congressmen, Mike Thompson of St. Helena and Jared Huffman of San Rafael, voted Wednesday against President Barack Obama’s plan to arm Syrian rebels, calling it a flawed response to the terrorist group known as the Islamic State.
The measure passed the House, 273-156, with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans united in opposition. The Senate is expected to approve the measure, with support from California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
In the House, among Northern California Democrats, only Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Ami Bera of Elk Grove and Jerry McNerney of Stockton voted for the plan.
“Frankly, we should know better than to provide arms and training for fighters we know very little about — and what we do know is troubling,” said Huffman, who succeeded Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma, best known for her vocal opposition to the Iraq war.
Huffman, whose district covers the North Coast, said in a statement that he agreed with Obama’s assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a “brutal terrorist organization” that should be destroyed. But, he said, the U.S. should not “take the lead in fighting and funding this war” without a “real multinational coalition” of the countries most affected by ISIL, or ISIS, as the group is also known.
Thompson, whose district includes Santa Rosa, said in a statement that ISIL has “brutally murdered two American citizens” and “poses a threat to the United States,” its allies and stability in the Middle East. But, he said, the Syrian opposition groups have not been adequately vetted and there is no assurance “these weapons will not fall into the hands of ISIL or be used against other innocent civilians.”
Thompson called for a “broad international coalition of Muslim and Western countries” to diminish and degrade ISIL.
Both representatives said there should be a debate and vote in Congress specifically authorizing another war.