Rep. Ed Markey may have been “present” then.
But he’s a “no” today.
Markey, the newly elected Democratic senator from Massachusetts and former longtime congressman, voted “present” in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when it voted 10-7 for a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria for its use of chemical weapons.
The full Senate was to take that resolution up this week, but President Barack Obama has asked for time while the U.S. sees what becomes of a Syrian offer to relinquish its chemical weapons. Obama was going on national television tonight at 9 pm to make the case that only the U.S. threat of action prompted Syria to concede that it even has such weapons and contend that the U.S. must keep the pressure on.
Markey, in a statement issued today, said he can’t support the resolution that came out of the Foreign Relations Committee — which is moot now, in that senators have started talking about drafting an alternative resolution taking into account the possibility of diplomacy and giving the United Nations time to verify Syria’s weapon use.
“I cannot support the resolution that passed the Foreign Relations Committee to use force in Syria because it is too broad, the effects of a strike are too unpredictable, and because I believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work,” Markey said today. “I commend Secretary Kerry and President Obama for their steadfastness during this conflict, which has brought Syria and Russia back to the negotiating table
He was asked by WBUR in Boston if he regrets that “present” vote he cast, which subjected him to a lot of criticism.
“That `present’ vote you cast on the Foreign Relations Committee — as you know, you took a tremendous amount of flak for that,” WBUR noted in its question to Markey. “Ot was basically the first vote or the first major vote you made on Senate Foreign Relations and it was essentially a non-answer. Do you regret in retrospect that `present’ vote?”
“No,” Markey said. “here was only 24 hours to consider the totality of all of the evidence. I had not had an opportunity in those 24 hours to read all of the intelligence, and I wanted to avoid what happened with the war in Iraq, where people didn’t read the intelligence. It wasn’t a full understanding of what we were getting ourselves into.”
“And I just felt that 24 hours was too short a period of time to make a decision that could jeopardize lives of Americans and involve us in a civil war in Syria. And so, no, I think that my decision today — saying I would cast a no vote — is now based upon dozens of hours of conversations with experts, reading the intelligence myself, so I can rest easy knowing that I have made the right decision.”
— WBUR (@WBUR) September 10, 2013