GOP Rep Backs Away From Military Action In Syria

September 6, 2013 6:19 a.m.

In another example of the pressures facing Republican congressmen, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is backing off an earlier public statement of support for limited military action in Syria. Coffman’s initial support for the plan, which came before President Barack Obama asked for congressional approval, unequivocally supported a limited military strike in retaliation for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, but now Coffman says he’s undecided as the vote approaches.

A staffer with Coffman’s office emailed TPM on Thursday that the congressman is now undecided on the upcoming vote to authorize limited military action against Syria.

“I’m undecided at this point,” Coffman said in the statement emailed by spokesman Drew Kerin. “There are three questions that I will be asking during the debate on Syria before making my decision. The first is how strong is the evidence that the Assad regime directed a chemical attack against civilians? The second is whether a limited strike would be effective in deterring Assad from the further use of chemical weapons? My third question will be whether a limited strike could ultimately drag the United States into an intractable sectarian civil war in Syria?”But in an Aug. 27 article published in the Denver Post and promoted by Coffman’s own website, the congressman said he favored limited military action against Syria.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said he wouldn’t support extended involvement since the United States is not “in danger of an imminent attack.”

“I will support the president should he conduct a limited strike on Syria in order to deter (Syrian President) Assad from further use of chemical weapons, but I would not support involvement beyond that because this is an intractable sectarian struggle,” Coffman said.

Coffman isn’t the only House member to back away from supporting an attack. Also on Thursday, Roll Call reported that Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-NY) was withdrawing his support from Obama’s plan to attack Syria.

[Ed. note: The post originally identified Grimm as a Democrat. We regret the error.]

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