Sen. McCain wants ‘details’ before a vote on Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter sits atop a flight of stairs near the Grand Umayyad mosque in Aleppo on Sept. 3, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits atop a flight of stairs near the Grand Umayyad mosque in Aleppo on Sept. 3, 2013.
Molhem Barakat/Reuters

Republican Sen. John McCain will not agree to President Obama’s military action against Syria until he sees “the details,” he said Tuesday on Morning Joe.

While the Obama administration briefed lawmakers during Labor Day weekend to rally support for military intervention in Syria, the United States positioned three destroyers, one cruiser, and one aircraft carrier in the Red Sea.

“I am not signing on until I see the details, and the resolution has to include that capability for the president before I would vote for a resolution,” the Arizona senator said Tuesday from Capitol Hill. “I was encouraged by what he had to say, but I’ve got to know the details.”

But the previous day McCain said a vote by Congress against Obama’s proposal in Syria would be “catastrophic,” NBC News reported.

“If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this after the president of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic,” McCain said Monday after a meeting with Obama at the White House.

McCain said Obama told him his resolution would include giving weapons and increasing the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army against the government. He would also degrade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.

The Obama administration has accused Assad of slaughtering more than 1,400 Syrians in a chemical attack earlier this month. The Syrian president consequently threatened “negative repercussions” if the United States launches an attack against his country.

Obama earlier this year promised the world he would bolster the rebels efforts to oust Assad by providing their forces with small arms and ammunition. But they haven’t received one weapon yet, McCain said.

What the administration has deemed Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people is a violation of the Obama’s previously designated “red line” that he said would prompt unspecified U.S. action.

“Why [Obama] said there was a red line and that red line was crossed and now it’s crossed again. And saying he’s going to act and then saying he’s going only to act with a resolution from Congress, I think frankly from talking with our friends and allies, it’s very discouraging to them,” McCain said.

“If I thought it was a meaningless resolution that could strain the president from doing what’s necessary,” he continued, “I couldn’t vote for it.”

A whopping 79% of Americans want the president to seek congressional approval before opting to strike Syria, according to an NBC News poll released last week.

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