Peninsula’s congressional representatives on fence over Syria military strikes

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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First-term U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer remained noncommittal Monday on Congress’ authorizing military strikes against Syrian military targets, joining the state’s two U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

All three Democrats were listed as “undecided” Monday in an updated poll of members of both houses at

“I have not decided yet how I will vote regarding whether or not to authorize the use of military force,” Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor and a Port Angeles native, said in an emailed newsletter.

“I am still reviewing the intelligence and analysis surrounding the proposed military response.

“And I’m actively listening to the people I represent.”

Kilmer’s 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The congressman’s comments were made before remarks Monday afternoon by President Barack Obama — who seeks Congress’ blessing to use airstrikes in the wake of a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian civil war.

Obama expressed pessimism that Congress would approve military action against Syria.

“I wouldn’t say I’m confident” about the measure passing,” Obama told NBC News.

He also said he hasn’t decided whether he would launch a military strike on his own if Congress votes down the resolution.

He said he is taking the vote and what the American people are saying “very seriously.”

Obama speaks to the nation in a nationally televised address today at 6 p.m. PDT.

Rep. Kilmer’s spokesman, Stephen Carter, said the 6th District’s response has been strong.

“We’ve had thousands of constituents call, write emails or letters, or write messages on Facebook and Twitter both before and after his newsletter, and many more [are] coming in each day,” Carter told the Peninsula Daily News.

Although Carter would not say how the sentiments were leading, national polls show that most Americans are against military strikes against Syria.

“We typically don’t release data relating to constituent feedback — and in any case, we wouldn’t have anything yet because we’re still reading and listening to many of the responses,” Carter said.

Murray spokesman Matt McAlvanah said Monday that the senator “is continuing to hear views from all sides of the issue from constituents on the Peninsula and throughout the state.”

Murray, D-Bothell, views the decision to use military force “with careful consideration and caution,” McAlvanah.

“The use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians is something everyone around the world condemns and believes must end.

“But we must weigh our response — even if limited in nature — with the recent lessons of intervention in the Middle East in mind, and with answers to many of the long-term questions about what comes after a strike having been addressed.”

Cantwell’s spokesman, Scott Whiteacre, said Monday that information was not available on how Cantwell’s constituents were leaning about military intervention.

Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, is “deeply concerned about the atrocities committed by the Assad regime and the apparent use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people,” her office said in a statement.

“Sen. Cantwell has serious questions about the strategic goals of a military strike in Syria and possible outcomes.”


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Last modified: September 09. 2013 5:37PM
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