Senator Heitkamp Says She Cannot Support Use of Force in Syria
BISMARCK, ND – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement on the President’s request for Congressional authorization to use military force in Syria over its use of chemical weapons. Heitkamp also explained her draft alternative proposal to address the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.
Over the past week, Heitkamp has participated in a classified hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where she heard from Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a briefing at the White House with Vice President Biden. And she has spoken with foreign policy experts about this issue.
“By using chemical weapons against its own people, the Assad regime committed a heinous crime against humanity that cannot be ignored. Any use of chemical weapons is a terrifying international problem that demands an international solution.
“Over the past week, I have participated in many confidential briefings and I’ve been scrutinizing whether the potential use of limited force in Syria is in the best strategic interest of the United States.
“I still believe we need to have an open and honest discussion on the Senate floor about the potential use of force in Syria. However, after all these meetings, I still have serious concerns. I cannot support the current Senate resolution to authorize force at this time.
“After doing my due diligence, I believe we need an alternative path forward in dealing with the Assad regime. We must balance the legitimate concerns that Americans have about the use of military force with our strategic interests. At its core, I believe the current Senate resolution falls short because it calls for military action in Syria without carefully looking at diplomatic or alternative solutions. I strongly believe that we need the entire world, not just America, to prevent and deter the use of chemical weapons in Syria, or anywhere else on the globe.
“I am currently working with Senator Joe Manchin and my other colleagues on an alternative approach that I believe provides a better path forward. The proposal would give the Assad government 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban and begin the process of turning over its chemical weapons. During this time, the U.S. would work to build international support and create a global response on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. If, after 45 days, the Assad regime mistakes our deliberate and careful democratic process for lack of will and immunity, it does so at its own peril.”
-statement released from Senator Heitkamp's Bismarck office.