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CBC Not Yet Sold on Syria

D.C. Residents Also Against Military Action

Stacy M. Brown | 9/18/2013, 3 p.m.
The Congressional Black Caucus, staunch supporters if not rubberstamps for many of President Barack Obama’s policies, has expressed skepticism over ...
Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Courtesy Photo

“However, look what has happened in Iraq, all of those years our kids were over there and for what? They never found weapons of mass destruction, ever. No, we should mind our own business and stay out of Syria,” said Stokes, 39.

Wars are costly and with an ongoing government sequester, a country still recovering from the Great Recession and unemployment remaining high, striking Syria should not be an option, said Reginald Harrison, a public works employee who lives in Northwest.

“If we got involved, we’d probably prevail in the end, but then we’d have to stay there and spend trillions of dollars helping to rebuild that country and helping to [establish] a new government,” said Harrison, 52. “We have Americans at home who are starving, who need work, who can’t pay their mortgage or their electric bill, why isn’t anyone thinking about that?”

The CBC needs to have a conversation about what a strike against Syria means in light of its priorities as a caucus, said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), who holds the No. 3 leadership post in the 43-member caucus.

“I’m not at all certain that it’s a monolithic vote,” said Clarke, 48. “Each member is going to look at what these actions mean for our nation, and then we’re going to relate it to the concerns of our constituents.”

The president’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, met with CBC officials earlier this month in an effort to convince them that an intervention is needed in Syria.

The president followed that meeting with a 15-minute address to the nation from the White House on Sept. 10, where he said America had a moral obligation and national security interest in launching military strikes against Syria.

“I thank the president and Susan Rice for engaging the CBC on this matter. I look forward to reviewing the joint resolution that comes before the House of Representatives and to participating in what will be a vigorous debate on how the United States should respond,” Fudge said.

“This is also a vote of conscience, and I encourage members of the Congressional Black Caucus to be extremely deliberate and thoughtful.”