Diplomacy and the Syrian Crisis

Last Updated on September 23, 2013.

Pro-Diplomacy Statements by Members of Congress


Sen. Baldwin (D-WI)- “The use of chemical weapons is a global atrocity and demands a global response, That is why I oppose going to war in Syria. And that is why I oppose authorizing military involvement in Syria’s civil war. We must now give the opportunity of a path forward without military involvement in Syria a chance to succeed.” [09/10/13]

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA)- “I have read the announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that his country has asked Syria to transfer control of its chemical weapons to international monitors for destruction to prevent an international strike. I would welcome such a move. I believe that Russia can be most effective in encouraging the Syrian president to stop any use of chemical weapons and place all his chemical munitions, as well as storage facilities, under United Nations control until they can be destroyed.” [09/09/13]

Sen. Harkin (D-IA)- “I am encouraged by the apparent opening for a multilateral response to the crisis in Syria.  I support and commend the efforts of the President and his Administration to work with the international community and the United Nations to obtain a diplomatic resolution to take control of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against civilians is abhorrent – both from a human rights perspective and from international norms dating back to World War I.   When international norms are violated, those violations should be condemned and addressed by the international community as a whole.” [09/10/13]

Sen. Lee (R-UT)- “The president has not convinced Americans that the Syrian civil war represents a vital national security threat to the United States.  Neither has he adequately explained how the U.S. would achieve the limited objectives his plan seeks to accomplish.  According to the administration, even after the limited military action, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would continue to have access to the chemical weapon stockpile and the ability to carry out further attacks. The better path for the president would be to continue to work with our allies to secure Syria’s chemical weapons and ensure they do not proliferate throughout the region.” [09/11/13]

Sen. Manchin (D-WV)- “I am encouraged that the Syrian regime has agreed to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, declare their chemical weapons and join the international community. I have said from the start that being a super power means more than super military might; it means super diplomacy and super restraint. This is the first step in the important process of reducing Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, but it is not the last step. Moving forward, we must make sure that the actions taken by the Syrian government to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention are swift, concrete and verifiable.” [09/10/13]

Sen. Merkley (D-OR)- “I share the President’s deep passion that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.  The United States must not ignore Syria’s egregious crime against its citizens. Indeed, America should bring the world together to condemn and penalize Syria for this action.  Such an effort, however, is best pursued through international negotiation and diplomacy.  I’m encouraged that the U.S. and other nations are now pursuing just such an international diplomatic strategy for ending Syrian access to chemical weapons. Over the coming days we will see if the Syrians and Russians can be full participants in a timely and verifiable intervention to accomplish this important and significant goal.” [09/10/13]

Sen. Udall (D-NM)- “I have consistently said that the only viable solution is to bring international pressure on Russia and other governments aiding Assad to force them to do the right thing. The developments of the last two days are evidence that an international diplomatic solution is still possible – and military strikes are not the only option. I am pleased to see that the president and some of my colleagues who have argued for imminent military strikes are now calling for time to pursue diplomatic options. As the Senate considers resolutions to resolve the crisis in Syria, we must keep up the diplomatic pressure to ensure Russia follows through on its commitment. Resolutions that would escalate the situation toward military action are reckless and risk dismantling the delicate international agreement. The American people have spoken clearly that they want this problem to be solved without the United States involving itself further in another Middle Eastern civil war. We should listen.” [09/10/13] 


Rep. Bass (D-CA)- “I support President Obama and Secretary Kerry in identifying and pursuing a powerful diplomatic path forward with the international proposal to transfer control of Syria’s chemical weapons to international monitors for destruction. Such a solution would remove chemical weapons from Syria’s control, while ultimately saving lives, avoiding military strikes, and drawing support of the United Nations Security Council.  By seizing and destroying the chemical weapons, this diplomatic solution would significantly degrade the Syrian regime’s ability to inflict devastating harm upon the Syrian people.” [09/10/13

Rep. Cicilline (D-RI)- “I applaud the President’s prudent decision to postpone his request for Congressional authorization for the use of military force in order to pursue a diplomatic alternative to this crisis that would guarantee that the Assad regime could never again use these horrific chemical weapons. The President’s proposal provides America with the opportunity to engage the entire international community in the important work of preventing the use of chemical weapons and to pursue this objective in a way that honors our values.” [09/10/13

Rep. Esty (D-CT)- “I believe that an international effort to address Assad’s actions is appropriate. The newly emerging possibility of bringing Syria to the U.N. with a diplomatic resolution to secure the chemical weapons, if the proposal can be effectively negotiated, is a very important development that should be pursued.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-PA)- “It is in our nation’s interest, and the world’s interest, to resolve this crisis diplomatically.  Over the past week the President has arrived there, and that is a good thing. As diplomatic channels are pursued, efforts for humanitarian aid must be addressed in the near term. With the President continuing to keep our soldiers at the ready for a military strike, I implore him to set a clear course which does not draw us deeper into a conflict that is not supported by the American people.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Foster (D-IL)- “I am pleased to see President Obama pursuing a diplomatic solution in Syria.  Recent developments are an important reminder of why it is critical that we closely examine all the information and options before taking military action. I support the President’s continued efforts to first find a diplomatic solution.” [09/10/13

Rep. Gabbard (D-HI)- “The most responsible and moral action that we can take to prevent the likelihood of any future chemical or biological weapons attacks in Syria will require true leadership to bring about sustained diplomatic and economic pressure — working in concert with our allies, as well as Russia, Iran, and China — to secure international control of the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria. Furthermore, we can use this opportunity to bring international attention to the need to actually rid the entire world of these chemical and biological weapons.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Gabbard (D-HI)- “I sincerely hope that the diplomatic efforts to get Syria to turn its chemical weapons stockpile over to international control will succeed. It would be a tragedy and serious mistake for us to attack Syria, as it would not reduce or prevent another chemical attack. Indeed, such a strike increases the likelihood of chemical weapons getting into the hands of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, causing even more suffering, not less.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Gerlach (R-PA)- “I am hopeful that the President’s pivot to diplomacy will succeed in stopping future chemical weapons attacks in Syria and that our country will not be forced to put the brave men and women of our military in harm’s way.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ)- “If Congress is asked to vote to authorize military force, I will vote no – not because I doubt terrible violence is occurring in Syria, but because a hastily organized missile strike with minimal international support will only make things worse. The considerable level of international involvement means we have much better options. The news today that Syria, at Russia’s urging, is willing to puts its chemical weapons under international control suggests a way forward. Syria’s offer makes any bombing campaign aimed at neutralizing its chemical stockpile unnecessary.” [09/09/13

Rep. Guthrie (R-KY)- “There is no doubt that the Middle East is rife with conflict and that the chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people on August 21 was horrific.  But I do not believe that a bombing campaign against the Assad regime would be appropriate, and may even further enflame regional tensions.  As the last remaining superpower, the United States should act as a role model for these troubled nations and look for further diplomatic solutions.” [09/09/13]

Rep. Huffman (D-CA)-  “The President did the right thing by postponing the vote in Congress and acknowledging that we have a new diplomatic channel that deserves pursuing. Getting Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles into international custody and destroying them is a far better solution than military action, which should always be a last resort. I support the administration’s efforts through the United Nations to eliminate these chemical weapons stockpiles.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Hultgren (R-IL)- “It was clear to me in the last twenty four hours that we are dealing with a rapidly evolving situation that requires a strong collective response by the international community. I do not believe the President and his administration have made a convincing case to the American people that striking Syria with military force is in the best interest of our nation. I welcome constructive diplomatic efforts and will look seriously at any proposal that takes chemical weapons out of the hands of Assad—or rebel factions—and places them under secure international monitoring and control. We will watch closely as the President works with our allies to hammer out a proposal that will lead to a longer-term solution and Syria policy.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Israel (D-NY)-  “I truly hope that the Russian proposal to stop this from happening again is legitimate. I believe the Administration has an obligation to vet it. If it is credible, there should be no military strike.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Kaptur (D-OH)- “I also want to thank and acknowledge the government of Russia for early reports we are learning about regarding discussions underway to rid Syria of weapons caches of danger, both to Syria as well as our global community. Both Russia and the United States, as the world’s premiere nuclear powers, hold awesome responsibility to move our world to a more peaceful and stable posture. Surely, we must focus that effort on the very unstable set of states across the Middle East. Russia and our country both have suffered from terrorist attacks and well understand the consequences of unresolved conflict and of terrorists preying on unstable states. My hope is that the Russian initiative gains momentum. And let all nations of goodwill on our globe find a way forward to address the tragic consequences of the Syrian civil war, starting with greater humanitarian assistance to refugees that have flowed into adjoining nations like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey — straining the ability of those nations to even hold their internal affairs together.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Kildee (D-MI)- “Tonight, President Obama outlined a possible diplomatic route that, while by no means is guaranteed to succeed, we have an obligation to pursue. The U.S. should always exhaust diplomatic efforts before considering military options. It is in the best interest of the United States to work with the international community to rid the Syrian regime and the world of such horrific weaponry.”[09/10/13]

Rep. Lance (R-NJ)- “President Obama’s remarks this evening did not change my position against authorizing military force in Syria.  I do, however, agree with the President that an international proposal to address the Syrian situation through diplomatic negotiations should be pursued.” [09/11/13]

Rep. Lee (D-CA)- “There is no military solution to this complex civil war, and while we all agree that a negotiated settlement is necessary, I do not believe military action will further that goal. The dangers of a military strike and its unintended consequences are dire: the further loss of life, so called, “collateral damage,” the possibility of retaliation, escalation, further US involvement in the war, or even sparking a broader regional war. These grave consequences demand that we work with the international community and pursue all of the alternatives.  That is why I will be voting “no” on any authorization for the use of force and precisely why I am working to advance non-military alternatives. We must hold the Assad regime accountable for these heinous acts while also working to further a negotiated political settlement to the crisis in Syria.” [09/06/13]

Rep. Maloney (D-NY)- “I strongly support the idea of safely removing and destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons. This development hopefully provides a route to effectively and peacefully preclude the further use of these weapons against the people of Syria or her neighbors. I applaud the Obama administration for considering this idea.” [09/10/13]

Rep. McCaul (R-TX)- “This fact is why my main concern has been, and remains, the security of Assad’s chemical weapon stockpiles. We have known of his growing arsenal for decades – and the President’s strike plan will not secure them. Securing these weapons will take an international coalition, and will ensure that they can neither be used by Assad or the extremist elements of the rebel forces.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Miller (R-MI)- “The use of chemical weapons in Syria was terrible and a crime against humanity.  Since the start of the debate on this issue, I have strongly believed that this problem could not be settled with an act of war and could only be settled through diplomacy.  Yesterday, a diplomatic track to resolve the issue of chemical weapons in Syria was opened by both the Russian Foreign Minister and the Secretary General of the United Nations.  I believe it must be strongly embraced by the United States and our allies. I have been opposed to a military solution because an attack on Syria would not accomplish the goal of removing the chemical weapons from the battlefield; in fact, the Administration has already stated that the Syrian chemical weapons would not be a target of any attack.  The diplomatic path is the only way to make certain that Syria’s chemical weapons are taken out of the hands of the Assad regime and potentially out of the hands of Hezbollah and al Qaeda if the regime were to collapse.  We must take the diplomatic path and in doing so our focus must be first, foremost and perhaps solely on getting those chemical weapons off the battlefield and destroyed. We must not let any diplomatic wrangling which moves the goal posts from that objective get in the way to coming to an agreement, and all sides should be held to that same standard.  Also I believe that reaching a diplomatic agreement on removing chemical weapons could also provide the impetus to finding a diplomatic path to end the horrors of the Syrian Civil War.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Miller (D-CA)- “I am encouraged that President Obama and other international leaders, including the presidents of Syria and Russia, have agreed to pursue through the United Nations a plan to contain and destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and I am hopeful that they will be successful. I recognize that this is a very difficult task and that there is no guarantee that this plan will succeed.  But it is essential that all parties to this plan, including Syria and Russia, pursue this effort to the fullest extent.  I remain deeply skeptical about the alternative – a military strike against Syria – and I know most Americans remain skeptical about that alternative as well. Chemical weapons have no place in modern society and I strongly support international efforts to ensure their elimination.” [09/10/13]

Rep. O’Rourke (D-TX)- “As this debate continues, I urge the Administration and the rest of the international community to pursue all alternatives to military intervention to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, and arrive at a negotiated political settlement to end the current crisis.” [09/09/13]

Rep. Perry (R-PA)-  “I welcome any serious and verifiable diplomatic initiative and hope we are actively engaging our allies in this effort. However, I remain deeply skeptical of the intention of the Russian and Syrian governments, especially since Assad refused to acknowledge that his country even had chemical weapons in an interview earlier this week. Instead of choosing military action as a first resort or bumbling into a diplomatic solution in the dark and playing directly into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the United States must now set the terms of this diplomatic debate and finally drive the conversation towards the coherent strategy that has been sorely lacking.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Pocan (D-WI)- “The playbook has to have more than one page when that page only says military action. The use of chemical weapons is reprehensible. The international community, preferably through the United Nations, must discuss and address this but that does not equate to the only option being a U.S. dominated military strike.” [09/08/13] 

Rep. Price (D-NC)- “The atrocities committed by the Syrian regime demand a swift response that ensures these weapons are never used again, and I have always believed that military force should be used only as a last resort, once all plausible diplomatic avenues have been exhausted. Russia’s proposal to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control is a potentially positive development, and I urge the Administration to act without delay to explore whether this proposal could lead to real verification and enforcement mechanisms that take Syria’s chemical weapons off the battlefield, and allow the international community to hold the Assad regime accountable.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Rangel (D-NY)- “I am pleased that the President has decided to explore diplomatic means of resolving this crisis in Syria. I am optimistic that the international community can come together to urge Assad to do the right thing and surrender his chemical weapons. Military action should be an absolute last resort, used only when the entire nation is fully committed to sending our sons and daughters to fight. Therefore I applaud the President for waiting and seeking congressional approval before launching military strikes. There is no such thing as a “limited” war. Involvement in Syria would have led to the loss of innocent life and put our troops at unnecessary risk. After over 6,600 brave soldiers paid the ultimate price for our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should not engage in another potential quagmire. America cannot afford another war abroad when the money to pay for missiles could be helping over 7 million American households who are struggling to put food on their tables.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Ribble (R-WI)- “Having now been fully apprised of the situation and objectives, I am fully opposed to military action at this time.  I do not believe it is in America’s national security interest to take military measures against Syria even given the atrocities committed by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.  Until or unless the situation changes, or America’s security interests are truly at risk, I believe we should continue to pursue alternative methods of holding the Assad regime accountable and  I would vote ‘no’ on any authorization of military force if it were presented in the House of Representatives.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Ross (R-FL)- “Today, the president has asked Congress to postpone the vote regarding military intervention in Syria in order to see if Syria will voluntarily give up their chemical weapons as they recently stated they would at Russia’s request. I have long said that the president should have pursued these peaceful negotiations with Russia 18 months ago. Russia is indispensable to resolving this crisis. Why was the president prematurely asking Congress to authorize U.S. military action when diplomatic strategies weren’t fully exhausted until now? It’s an outrage that Congress was asked by the president to commit U.S. military assets to the Syrian conflict when it appears that the president himself didn’t initially do everything in his power to solve this very serious situation in a peaceful manner.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Schiff (D-CA)- “Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that a U.S. strike on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure could be avoided if Assad gave up his chemical weapons stockpile.  Within hours, the idea was picked up by the Russian foreign minister who called on Syria to put its arsenal of poison gas under UN supervision and control. The offer may be merely a delaying tactic, or an attempt to sow division in the international community in an effort to fend off a military strike. Nevertheless the Russians were shrewd to make this offer, and it would be equally wise for the U.S. to pursue this option with great vigor. We have a compelling moral and humanitarian interest in seeing that Bashar Al-Assad never uses chemical weapons again, not against Syrian civilians, not against anyone.  The images of the dead and dying, men, women and children are indelibly fixed in our minds.  We also have a core national security interest in making sure that when the Assad regime comes to an end, his chemical weapons stockpiles do not fall into the wrong hands…But whatever the motivation, we should seize the opportunity – as difficult as it may prove in the middle of a civil war – to bring about UN control over one of the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpiles.  The effort to place, and ultimately destroy, these stockpiles under UN supervision will once again put the United States and all of our traditional allies including the British on the same page.” [09/10/13

Rep. Schrader (D-OR)- “I appreciate the President working with Russia and our other international partners on developing a diplomatic strategy to end the use of chemical weapons in Syria and avert unilateral U.S. military action, as I have called for. The most effective way our nation can punish Syria’s violation of international norms, prevent potential future threats and avoid another costly war is to work under the aegis of an internationally recognized body. I stand with the President in leading the world community to get these horrible weapons out of the wrong hands and hold those who would dare use them on innocent civilians responsible.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Shea-Porter (D-NH)- “I applaud the President for pursuing a diplomatic solution to this crisis before taking military action, and I continue to be optimistic that this situation can be resolved through a negotiated political agreement. I stand with President Obama in calling on Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, cease production of chemical weapons, and begin turning over its chemical weapons stockpile to the international community immediately.” [09/10/13]

Rep. Thompson (D-CA)- “The use of chemical weapons is appalling no matter who uses them or why. When these weapons of mass destruction are used to massacre innocent men, women and children, as appears to be the case in Syria, there should be a robust, global response to deter these types of atrocities from ever happening again. Any such response, military or otherwise, must be taken with a strong, international coalition. I am cautiously hopeful that a diplomatic solution can be found where Assad allows international inspectors to take control of the regime’s chemical weapons arsenal. This Russian-proposed solution has been accepted by Syria and is supported by China and Iran. Members of the U.N. Security Council are working on a resolution requiring Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control where they could then be destroyed. This proposal must be closely monitored by the international community to ensure 100 percent of Assad’s chemical weapons are surrendered to the international community without delay.” [09/10/13]


September 23, 2013