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Government and Politics

Obama faces a skeptical eastern Ohio delegation on the Syria question
Bill Johnson, Rob Portman are among those with big questions that he says the president has not yet answered

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson says the administration needs to answer three important questions before he'll consider action in Syria.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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In The Region:

Northeast Ohio’s congressional delegation remains  largely uncommitted on military action against Syria. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on what the members of the House and Senate say they’re waiting for.

LISTEN: Ohio's congressional delegation is ambivalent on Syria

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Republican Bill Johnson was among the House members who headed to Washington for a briefing on Syria Sunday. He then headed back to tour his eastern Ohio district to sound out the voters. The Air Force veteran remains uncommitted, but is posing questions that suggest why he’s considered “leaning no” on military intervention.

“I’ve gotta understand the national security risks and national interests at stake, I’ve got to understand what we’re going to do and what kind of conditions we’re going to lead in while we’re there, and I’ve got to make sure that it’s got the support of the American people.”

Another Republican,Bob Gibbs, whose district includes Canton, says in a statement the president’s plan “does not meet the threshold for an authorization of military force resolution.”

And the Plain Dealer is reporting that Jim Renacci, who stretches north from Canton is saying the administration has shown a “shocking” lack of leadership. He says he fears U.S. intervention could boost radical Islamic rebels

Northeast Ohio Democrats also are not rallying at this point, either. Tim Ryan of Niles says in a statement that Syria’s use of weapons of mass destruction is a “a crime against humanity” that could “set a horrific precedent for future attacks in the Middle East.” He’s calling for a ‘measured and proportionate response,” but doesn’t specify what. 

And the office of Cleveland Democrat Marcia Fudge says she’s awaiting next week’s briefings in Washington before making up her mind.

Not yet signaling their sentiments are two other members of the Northeast Ohio delegation, David Joyce and  Marcy Kaptur.

Ohio's senators appear ambivalent, too
Meanwhile, Ohio's senators are also noncommittal at this point. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown issued a statement today saying he’s still examining President Obama’s plan, including through classified briefings. His statement says, “We need to build international support around clear objectives for ending the violence against the Syrian people.”

Republican Sen. Rob Portman told reporters in southwest Ohio today that he could support a limited strike, but he think the United States shouldn’t go it alone, if at all.

"I do know at this point I cannot support us getting directly involved in that civil war, certainly not having boots on the ground. I think that would be a mistake."

"I do know at this point I cannot support us getting directly involved in that civil war, certainly not having boots on the ground. I think that would be a mistake."

House Speaker John Boehner, who’s also from southwest Ohio, has committed to some sort of action against Syria. And President Obama continues to make his argument that such action is moral, legal and necessary.

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