Senators Warren, Markey, Rep. Keating offer mixed views on Syria

Senator Elizabeth Warren, shown during a campaign visit to The Times office in July 2012, is visiting the Island July 15 to hold a town hall-style forum. - Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 5 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

With critical votes in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives put off for now, Massachusetts lawmakers provided mixed answers on the question of how they would vote.

The Times Monday emailed press contacts for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, and Representative Bill Keating to ask each lawmaker if she or he supports military action in Syria, or, if they remain undecided, what are the issues they are considering before making a decision.

As of late Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren had not yet indicated how she will vote. Senator Markey and Representative Keating said they were opposed to military action.

In response to an email from The Times, Warren press Secretary Lacey Rose said Monday, “Senator Warren attended another classified briefing from the Administration on Friday and visited with and heard from constituents from across the Commonwealth this past week. Mindful of potential unintended consequences, the senator is considering the costs and benefits of using military force in Syria based on all the information she has received.”

In his first major vote as a member of the U.S. Senate, on Sept. 4, Sen. Edward Markey voted present on a resolution authorizing the Obama administration to use military force against Syria over allegations that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved the resolution 10-7, with Mr. Markey voting present, pushing it forward to the full Senate.

In a statement issued at noon on Tuesday, Mr. Markey clarified his stance.

“I cannot support the resolution that passed the Foreign Relations Committee to use force in Syria because it is too broad, the effects of a strike are too unpredictable, and because I believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work,” Mr. Markey said. “I commend Secretary Kerry and President Obama for their steadfastness during this conflict, which has brought Syria and Russia back to the negotiating table.

“The administration’s intended military action in Syria is designed to deter and degrade the Assad’s regime’s chemical weapons capability. I agree with such intentions – the use of chemical weapons is a heinous and horrific act outside the bounds of civilized conduct. However, I am concerned about the unintended consequences of the strikes and the potential for triggering an even greater conflagration that could be beyond our ability to predict or control.”

Late Tuesday, a spokesman for Representative Keating issued the following statement. “While I believe the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, I do not think the President should act militarily and I do not think the Congress should act on any authorization at this time. Rather, we should keep all our options to leverage the proposal for Syria to relinquish these weapons and place them under international control.”