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Minn. Delegation Divided On Military Action Against Syria

Note: Individual statements are at the end of story.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota's congressional delegation appears deeply divided by pressure to take military action against Syria.

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen calls the President's request "too broad, too open-ended, too risky" -- so does Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Democrat Rep. Tim Walz "still believes questions need to be answered" and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she is "adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East."

"You can't just launch an attack against a nation without consequences," Bachmann said.

But some of the strongest opposition is from Minnesota Democrat Rick Nolan.

Nolan came away from a classified briefing on Syria unconvinced that Assad is responsible for the massacre, concerned a military strike will quickly escalate into war.

"In my judgment it is a serious mistake, these wars of choice in the Middle East," Nolan said.

Republican Congressman John Kline hasn't said how he'll vote, but calls the use of chemical weapons "unacceptable in our country."

And Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson says he'll vote against a strike, saying it won't "accomplish anything toward ending the turmoil".

Only Democrat Keith Ellison is a steadfast supporter of a military strike.

"I'm an anti-war person, but I am also not a pure pacifist. I do believe there are times when you have to protect innocent people with force. I believe this may be one of those times," Ellison said.

Nolan also confirmed he got into a heated exchange with Secretary Kerry during the classified briefing Monday. He said Kerry was offended when Nolan challenged the administration's evidence of chemical warfare, and when he compared Syria to Vietnam, where Kerry was wounded in action.

More Statements

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum, (MN-4)

"Without final legislative language to consider it is impossible for me to commit at this time to support or oppose President Obama's request for Congressional authorization for military action targeting the Syrian regime.

"Having been briefed by the White House, the intelligence is undeniable that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to gas and kill innocent civilians. This is a crime against humanity that requires an unequivocal response from the U.S. and the international community. To do nothing and allow Syrian President Assad and his generals' impunity following such an atrocity would undermine the most fundamental global norms of conduct that keep Americans safe while directly putting at risk our key regional allies – Jordan, Turkey, and Israel.

As I have stated previously, the U.S. should not take unilateral military action, but it is clear the Obama Administration is making significant diplomatic efforts to seek support from a host of nations, especially Arab League nations, for a limited military strike. President Obama's plan can only be successful if the world is standing with the U.S."

"It is my intention to return to Washington tomorrow, attend additional briefings, and consult with the Administration and Congressional colleagues. President Obama must make the case and earn the support of the American people and Congress, including this representative, for limited and effective military action against the Syrian regime. I applaud the President for fully engaging Congress in this critically important decision."

Republican Congressman John Kline (MN-2)

"The horrific acts by the Bashar Assad regime of using chemical weapons to kill citizens including children is anathema and unacceptable in our country and around the world. While I am disappointed the President put the U.S. in a difficult position by publicly using a 'red line' with Syria, America's credibility is now in question and the world is watching. I am pleased the President is reaching out to Congress, but he must make the case to the American people and provide a clear and concise plan to stop Assad and warn others this type of behavior will not be tolerated."

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-6)

"The prospect of military intervention in Syria demands a robust public debate, and President Obama made the correct constitutional decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of military force.

"I am adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East and plan to vote against military intervention in Syria. We have bad actors and bad options on both sides in Syria, with many of the rebels working with al Qaeda-affiliated groups.

"The fruit of President Obama's failed foreign policy has contributed to the chaos and instability in Libya and Egypt, all the while distracting from the essential threat in the Middle East: the specter of a nuclear Iran.

"President Obama has not demonstrated a vital American national security interest in the conflict in Syria or a clear strategy outlining what the use of force would accomplish. The American people do not support a military intervention and I cannot vote for one."

Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7)

"What's going on in Syria is deplorable, but at this point, I don't see how U.S. military action will accomplish anything toward ending the turmoil over there or helping the people of Syria which is my main concern. Along with my constituents, I am opposed to intervention. I am willing to listen to the President and others, but I haven't heard anything at this point that will change my mind."

Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan (MN-8)

"An airstrike against another country is clearly an act of war. This strike will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It will undoubtedly will kill hundreds, if not thousands of people. When you attack another country there is retaliation. We can ill afford another conflict in the Middle East where we have no friends. And we need to be reminded that we are not the policeman of the world, and even if we wanted to be we cannot afford it."

US Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

"There are no good options on Syria. But as I've said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that. Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can't be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country."

US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

"The decision to allow Congress to debate will give us the ability to carefully consider the evidence and consult with military officials before making a decision. I believe the current draft of the resolution is too broad and I continue to strongly believe that we should not have American troops on the ground in Syria."

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