Democrats divided over Obama’s Syria pitch

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While the vote on Syria is being called a vote of conscience and will likely not divide along party lines, one lawmaker from a pro-Obama district said that supporting the president and disagreeing with his current push for military action are not mutually exclusive.

“There were people who said, I love the president; I trust the president; he’s like my son. But we just — as one lady said — she said, I disagree with my husband, but I love him to life. And so, you know, you’re going to have those disagreements,” said Maryland Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings. “We all have to, I think, look at this not just in a vacuum of what’s happening today, but what’s going to happen with regard to future generations.”

Mr. Cummings, who spoke to reporters as he left a classified briefing Friday afternoon, said that he has not yet made a decision on how he will vote. He talked about balancing his fears of retaliation from Syria, Iran or Russia if America does strike with the image of children who died suffering from nerve gas covered in white sheets.

“And so the question is … do you go out and you try to make sure that that doesn’t happen again, or do you make sure that you’re not stirring up a hornet’s nest by taking action?” he said.

Another Democrat who attended the briefing, Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota, said that while there are “no good options,” he is leaning towards voting yes, pending the language of the final resolution.

“To me, there is enough evidence that there has been a chemical weapons attack, that it was authorized by the regime and I believe that we have to demonstrate that you can’t do that,” he said. “I want to make sure that it’s narrow enough that people in Minnesota and people in this country and people around the world understand that it’s about these chemical weapons.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, emphasized that there is no party position after leaving the joint classified briefing. She said she applauds the Obama administration for holding so many briefings that allow members of Congress to ask questions, but that she still has not made a final decision.

“We’re not talking about a perfunctory vote on a road, a bridge, a park,” she said. “People take it seriously. The president has come to the Congress for authorization, we have to fulfill our obligation in making sure we have every piece of information that individually we need in order to come to a conclusion.”

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