By Ian Swanson
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told MSNBC on Monday that it will be difficult for the White House to convince him to vote for military action against Syria.
“This will be a very heavy burden for me to persuade me that it is in the national security interests of the U.S. to engage in this military strike,” he said.
Both conservatives and liberals in the House have questioned whether a strike would protect U.S. national security and meet the nation’s interests.
Cicilline asked what the consequences of a strike would be. Some worry attacking Syria could lead to a wider war that would pull the U.S. more deeply into the conflict. Syria and Iran have suggested there would be repercussions for Israel if the U.S. attacks.
Others say that the strike has little chance of changing the outcome of Syria’s civil war. The White House has said it wants to punish Syria for the use of chemical weapons, but does not see the strike as shifting momentum in the war.
The White House has launched an all-out effort to win congressional approval for a strike. It held a classified briefing Sunday on Capitol Hill to provide information to Cicilline and other lawmakers. More than 80 members attended.
Secretary of State John Kerry hit five networks on Sunday to argue for a strike, and President Obama will meet two key senators Monday: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who want the U.S. to take aggressive steps against Syria.
Cicilline on Monday said he needed much more information before making a decision.
“I think everybody recognizes that the use of chemical weapons is horrific, but what we really have to decide is whether or not a military strike will advance or protect the national security interests of the United States,” he said.