Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Nunes working on bipartisan Syria resolution urging diplomacy

Tulare Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have agreed on the principles of a resolution that encourages President Barack Obama to use diplomatic channels — and not force — in the Syria crisis.

“The key here is it is bipartisan and bicameral,” Nunes said of the agreement.

Nunes said Friday that details of the resolution will be worked out over the weekend. The goal, however, is “something that gives the president good direction” on where Congress is.

Rep. Devin Nunes

A resolution authorizing force, Nunes said, is unlikely to be approved.
Obama has been seeking support for military strikes against Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war. Obama says Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the conflict.

But Nunes, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, says the situation in the war-racked Middle Eastern nation is so unstable and ever-changing that it is too difficult to sort out the good guys from the bad ones.

In fact, Nunes says, some sort of limited military strike like the one currently under consideration by the Obama administration could make things worse. The Middle East is a powder keg where the law of unintended consequences reigns supreme, he said.

Among those unknowns are the chances a U.S. strike could spark a wider Middle Eastern conflict.

Nunes stated his position Friday morning while answering a question following a breakfast address to the Greater Fresno Chamber of Commerce. He fleshed out some of the detail in a subsequent interview, where he also talked of the pending joint resolution with Manchin.

Already, Nunes has put together a Syria resolution that would make Obama respond to a list of nine questions and report back to Congress before initiating any sort of military action.

Among the questions:

  • How would a limited strike help secure Syria’s chemical weapons supplies and deter their future use, and how would it advance Obama’s policy supporting “regime change?”
  • Does al Qaeda or other terrorist groups in Syria have access to chemical weapons and have they used them in the past or could they in the future?
  • What is the financial cost of the Obama administration plan?

Nunes said there was a time to take military action against Syria, but that time is long past.

Now, he said, “we don’t have a lot of good options.”