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Vt. Congressional Delegation Backs Diplomatic Solution In Syria

Congressman Peter Welch has been skeptical about the President’s plan to use limited air strikes against Syria to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons.

Is there a way we can safeguard people from the further use of chemical weapons without having to use military force. That is the goal - Rep. Peter Welch

That’s why he strongly supports an effort to have the United Nations Security Council adopt a resolution that condemns the use of chemical weapons and sets a deadline for Syrian President Assad to turn the weapons over to the United Nations.

“The bottom line concern for all of us is, is there a way we can safeguard people from the further use of chemical weapons without having to use military force? That’s the goal,” said Welch. “Whether it’s through the U.N. or Russia and China working with Syria and international observers is really of secondary importance. It’s the ultimate goal," he said.

Welch and about a dozen other House Democrats met with Vice President Biden on Tuesday afternoon to encourage the Administration to pursue the diplomatic solution.

“Things are happening and this situation with Russia is changing the chemistry around here,” said Welch. “And I think what we’re seeing signals from the White House is that they’re going to plunge in and explore this in the hopes that it is real and do everything they can to help make it real.”

Senator Bernie Sanders also endorsed the diplomatic approach in a speech on the Senate floor.“It would be an extraordinary victory in my view for the people of Syria who are going through horror after horror right now,” said Sanders. “And for the entire world and for the future of the world if we could take those chemical weapons and destroy them.”

And Sanders thinks many people opposed the President’s plan, in part, because the military approach would take valuable resources away from critical domestic issues.

“The American people are saying very loudly and clearly that this country faces enormous crises, economically, global warming, health care, education income and wealth inequality and they want us to start addressing those needs,” said Sanders.

Senator Patrick Leahy is also supporting the diplomatic approach. In a written statement, his office said Leahy believes “it is appropriate that the President intends to call on the United Nations to help broker a solution that can be agreed to by all governments of conscience.”

Leahy’s statement also said he needs to see verifiable action by the Syrian government to relinquish control of its chemical weapons.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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