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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Senator On Syria: ‘We Just Can’t Take On Anything Else’

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., left, is pictured in January 2013. At right is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking Republican on the committee. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., left, is pictured in January 2013. At right is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking Republican on the committee. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Congress is in recess until September 9th, but lawmakers are calling for congressional involvement to any U.S. response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians last week.

This evening, U.S. House and Senate leaders will get a briefing from the White House. President Obama has said he is certain that the chemical weapon attack was initiated by Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Some lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts say they would support “surgical” strikes that don’t involve civilians. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona says the U.S. needs to act.

But Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma — a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — is one of the few against any response.

“I’m opposing military action by us,” Inhofe told Here & Now. “We just can’t take on anything else.”

He says the Defense Department budget cuts due to sequestration have been too great to use military resources.

“I’ve taken my position for a reason that no one else is talking about,” Inhofe said. “My concern is this: This president has gutted the military during the four-and-a-half years that he’s been in. And right now, we’re in a position where in order just to meet the expectations of sequestration, he’s furloughing people.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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