Heller cautious about U.S. strike against Syria | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller cautious about U.S. strike against Syria

DAVID C. HENLEY
Publisher Emeritus
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and his wife Lynne ride in the annual Lions Club Labor Day Parade.
STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

Nevada U.S. Senator Dean Heller, like many members of Congress and the American public, is taking a “wait and see” attitude toward President Barack Obama’s call for a U.S. military strike against Syria.

Visiting Fallon on Monday and riding a horse in the city’s annual downtown Labor Day parade, Heller, a Republican, said Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has done “terrible things” to his people is reference to the Syrian army’s alleged killing of more than 1,400 in a chemical attack last week.

But Heller said that although he expresses moral outrage at Assad’s atrocities, “I have not been supportive of a U.S. attack on Syria.”

“But I will listen to what president has to say,” referring to President Obama’s scheduled meeting with members of the Senate and House of Representatives next week.

Heller said Congress will return from its summer recess on Monday, and Obama has promised to seek its approval before carrying out limited military action against Syrian forces and installations.

Is there a chance that Heller could change his mind and vote for a congressional resolution supporting a strike against Assad?

“As I said, at this time I’m not supporting the action against Syria. But I could possibly change my mind,” he said.

“I’ll be back in Washington on Monday. I want to hear what the president has to say. I want to hear what our military leaders have to say,” said Heller, who with his wife, Lynne, rode horses in Fallon’s annual parade.

Heller also attended Labor Day weekend picnics and parades in Elko and Winnemucca and rode in the Virginia City parade following the Fallon festivities.

When Heller returns to Washington, he will join other members of Congress in debating Obama’s call for action against Syria.

Obama, who initially said he did not need congressional approval to launch limited action against Syria, backtracked late last week and announced he would seek the approval of Congress before carrying out a military strike.

Obama said last weekend that, “Over the last several days, we’ve heard from several members of Congress who want their voices to be heard I absolutely agree.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), like Heller, welcomed Obama’s decision and said, “The president’s role as commander in chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress.”

Obama has said, “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”

But Heller and other members of Congress, while agreeing with Obama’s assessment of Assad’s crimes, are still not convinced the U.S. should enter another conflict in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces at sea and in the air are ready to strike against Syria should Congress give its approval of Obama’s plan for action.