Heinrich alone in support of strike

September 11, 2013 • Local News, National News

Jill McLaughlin
Record Staff Writer

First-time Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich remained the only New Mexico congressional representative to say he’ll vote for a Senate resolution authorizing a U.S. strike in Syria, following President Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday night.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Dist. 2, say they are opposed to the use of U.S. military action in Syria over its use of chemical weapons against its own people.

Udall said he was not assured that targeted military strikes would end U.S. involvement in the situation.

“No matter what the administration says, this is an act of war,” Udall told New Mexico press Tuesday. “There is no end game here. Let me be crystal clear: If Iran attacks us, or our allies (following the strike)—we will respond.”

A vote pushed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., stalled after diplomatic negotiations began taking shape [auth] with Russia, one of Syria’s biggest allies. A proposal for the Russian government to join with the international community in pushing Syrian’s Bashar al-Assad to give up his regime’s chemical weapons is “a positive step forward,” Udall said.

Udall has received thousands of letters and responses from New Mexicans asking him to vote against using force in Syria, he said.

“I plan to vote against this,” Udall said. “The international community isn’t with us. The U.S. people don’t support us.”

Pearce also said he would vote against the use of force.

“American soldiers and their families have sacrificed enough,” Pearce said. “American taxpayers have given enough. The rest of the world needs to step up—America cannot fight every battle.”

Pearce’s office has heard from more than 1,000 New Mexicans opposed to U.S. military action, he said.

Pearce is backing a proposal to block funding for any U.S. government department or agency that funds the use of force in Syria.

“It is the responsibility of Congress to use its constitutional authority to prevent this impulsive and misguided intervention,” Pearce said.

Heinrich’s announcement Monday to support military action in Syria continues to draw criticism through hundreds of people commenting on his public social network site.

In a letter, Heinrich said the U.S. has a “moral obligation to deter Assad and every regime watching him from thinking that they can gas their people with impunity, commit genocide, or employ internationally prohibited weapons.”

“It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that I will support President Obama’s request for the authorization of the use of military force,” Heinrich said.

Reps. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, D-Dist. 1, and Ben Ray Lujan, D-Dist. 3, said Tuesday they continue to assess the situation. They have not said if they support military action.

“The situation in Syria is very complex, and we owe it to the American people to carefully consider all of the implications of any action we might take in response to the atrocities there,” Lujan-Grisham said. “Like many New Mexicans and Americans, I have serious questions I need answered before deciding what is in our nation’s best interest.”

Some 1,600 constituents have responded to a survey about the issue on Lujan-Grisham’s web site.

Lujan said recent diplomatic developments involving Russia is a positive step.

“If Syria is serious about fully complying in a timely manner so that these awful weapons can never be used again on innocent people, then the United States should give this diplomatic process an opportunity while working with allies on an international effort,” Lujan said.

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