WASHINGTON – Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey said Tuesday night he remains undecided on whether to vote for a military strike in Syria, citing concerns about President Obama’s planning and intervention’s unintended consequences, but also about “the national security risks of inaction.”
Obama personally made his case for military action Tuesday in separate meetings with Democratic and Republican senators, and then on national television, but a Toomey statement said “I still have doubts about the effectiveness of the president’s plan … how he would handle unintended consequences of the action and the prudence of authorizing an act of war that is not broadly supported by the American people.”
But he added that “the national security risks of inaction -- including the message it would send to Iran and the possible proliferation of chemical weapons – are also serious concerns.”
In the statement, issued minutes before Obama addressed the nation, Toomey said he will “seek more answers” before reaching a conclusion.
With rising Congressional opposition to a strike, Toomey’s vote could be critical to Obama in the closely divided Senate. (Obama has little support for military action in the House).
The issue, though, is for now out of Congress’ hands as Obama turns to diplomatic talks involving allies, Russia, Syria and the U.N. instead of seeking authorization for a strike.
Some senators, including Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, are working on a plan to authorize a military strike if those talks fail. Toomey said he is “deeply skeptical about the motivations of the Russians and the viability of their plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.”
Casey and fellow Democrat Bob Menendez, of New Jersey, have vocally supported a military strike in Syria. Republican New Jersey Sen. Jeff Chiesa is undecided.
Local House members have all either opposed the push for authorization for military intervention or said they are undecided. None have offered words of support for a U.S. strike.