Little support for Syria action in Ohio delegation

CINCINNATI - Most members of Ohio's congressional delegation are balking at President Barack Obama's call for U.S. military action in Syria.

A survey by The Associated Press finds that both U.S. senators and most of the House members from Ohio say they are undecided on whether to authorize military force. Two Republican congressmen have said they would vote against it at this point, and several others are leaning against it.

The only delegation member to voice support so far for limited military action against Syria has been House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, who said it would warn U.S. enemies around the world that "this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated." The president says a strike against the Syrian government is warranted for deadly chemical weapons attacks, which that government blames on rebels trying to overthrow the Assad leadership.

First-term Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati is an Army Reserve officer and Iraq war veteran who says the president hasn't clearly made his case. He said he has a lot of unanswered questions and remains undecided, like most of the delegation.

"This is about American lives being put into danger," Wenstrup said. "He (Obama) hasn't spelled things out in the way I would like to see. I also want to know what this has to do with U.S. national security."

Rep. Bill Johnson, an Air Force veteran and Republican from Marietta, also has said he has a lot of questions about Obama's plans, and he is concerned about the impact on Israeli's security.

Rep. Jim Renacci, Republican from Wadsworth, says he is against U.S. intervention, saying he fears military strikes might help some rebel groups that include radical Islamists. He said Obama hasn't laid out a clear goal and a defined mission for Syria action.

"The president has shown a shocking lack of leadership to this point, even before he punted the issue to Congress," Renacci said in a statement.

Rep. Mike Turner of Dayton, also a Republican, is against U.S. military strikes, saying he has questions including how the military involvement would be funded. And Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said in a statement this week that the president needs to show "clear and coherent objectives," and that Obama's "current plan does not meet the threshold for an authorization of military force resolution."

Democrats in the delegation haven't been critical of the president on the issue, but say they want more information before making up their minds.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, "wants to delve into the evidence before deciding whether or not to vote to authorize military operations against the brutal Assad regime," spokesman Steve Fought said.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, has been listening to constituents' thoughts on the issue and will return to Washington with more questions about the plan, spokesman Greg Beswick said.

Ohio's Republican U.S. senator canceled a trip to New Hampshire to be in Washington on Friday for classified briefings on Syria. Rob Portman, of suburban Cincinnati, said he was undecided.

"I am looking forward to learning more about the situation directly from the administration and our military leadership," Portman said in a statement. "I have a lot of questions that have not yet been answered."

He said he wants to be certain that any planned military action is part of a clear strategy with goals for Syria and the region.

Ohio's Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland also hasn't decided on the Syria vote.
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Associated Press writers Ann Sanner in Columbus, John Seewer in Toledo and Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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Contact the reporter at www.twitter.com/dansewell

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