One House Republican Moves From "Do Something" to "Eh, Maybe Not" on Syria

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2013 4:15 PM

One House Republican Moves From "Do Something" to "Eh, Maybe Not" on Syria

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Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., isn't so sure about this whole Syria intervention thing anymore.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Illinois Rep. Randy Hultgren represents some of Chicago's southwest surbubs, a generally conservative area that, for decades, sent Dennis Hastert to Congress. On Aug. 29, he was one of more than a hundred Republicans demanding that the president clear any action on Syria with the Congress.

The horrific conflict in Syria only gets worse as more and more lives are lost, but that does not give the President authority to ignore our Constitution in matters of military engagement. The Constitution is definitive when it comes to engaging U.S. military forces and we expect that the president would seek congressional authorization prior to committing U.S. military assets. We are ready to come back to Washington to deal with this issue head-on, carefully consider our options and, if necessary, act.
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Today, following a briefing, Hultgren said this.

The President’s case and the facts presented failed to make a compelling case for why it is in the national interest of the United States to engage our military in Syria. This is a tragedy that the international community must be fully engaged in, and we must pursue all options to determine what other actions can be taken to stop the bloodshed and pursue peace. But we cannot commit our military forces when there seems to be no clear objective or path to ending our involvement. History shows that there is no such thing as a limited or surgical strike – that every action will be met with a reaction. In this instance, I am concerned that military strikes could result in many unforeseen consequences.

Not quite "no," but more of a "no" than he was hinting at before. And he's a conservative in a safe seat.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.