Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he would not support a resolution authorizing a strike on Syria, making him the only congressional leader to oppose the resolution.
It’s not yet clear when or if McConnell would actually have to cast that “no” vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had initially scheduled a procedural vote on a motion to proceed to the resolution for Wednesday, but opted to delay that vote Monday evening in what he described as deference to continuing international conversations.
“A vital national security risk is clearly not at play,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor explaining why he would be a “no” vote.
“No one disputes that the atrocities committed in Syria in recent weeks are unspeakable. No one disputes that those responsible for these crimes against the innocent should be held to account. We were absolutely right, of course, to condemn these crimes. But let’s be very clear about something: These attacks, monstrous as they are, were not a direct attack against the United States or one of its treaty allies,” McConnell said.
The Minority Leader spent much of his speech lambasting President Barack Obama for his foreign policy in general, and his handling of this proposed strike in particular.
“It’s not capital state secret I’m no fan of this president’s foreign policy,” McConnell said.
“Unlike the president, I’ve always been a firm and unapologetic believer in the idea that America isn’t just another nation among many, that we are indeed exceptional … The president, on the other hand, has always been a very reluctant commander in chief,” McConnell said.
On Syria, in particular, McConnell said he was “literally dumfounded at the ham-handed manner in which the White House announced it. There is absolutely no reason, no reason to signal to the enemy when and how and for how long you plan to strike them. None. As I’ve said before, you don’t send out a save the date card to the enemy.”
At the moment, the administration is considering a Russian proposal in which Syria would surrender it’s stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community, where it would be destroyed. That option has been met with both hope and skepticism by U.S. lawmakers as it would eliminate the need for any kind of military action should Syria actually go through with the deal.
McConnell said the proposal was “obviously worth exploring.”