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Cantor, Kaine support Obama

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor said Tuesday he’ll support giving President Barack Obama authority to intervene in Syria.

Obama over the weekend asked Congress for approval for U.S. military intervention in Syria, where the Assad regime is accused of using chemical weapons against civilians in that country’s civil war.

Now Obama is trying to make the case to members of Congress to give him that authority. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including member Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, held a hearing on the issue Tuesday afternoon.

Cantor’s comments came after a meeting with Obama and other congressional leaders Tuesday morning.

In a written statement, Cantor, R–7th, said he’ll vote to give Obama “the option to use military force” in Syria.

“America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States,” Cantor said.

He said Syria is “the epitome of a rogue state” and poses “a direct threat” to American interests and partners that has been exacerbated by Syria’s civil war.

Kaine, a Democrat, also backs giving Obama authority for some level of military intervention. Kaine has been vocal about the need to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.

“I think we have to take steps to show that the use of chemical weapons against civilians has consequences,” Kaine said in an interview on the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC Tuesday morning.

He made similar comments last week during a visit to the naval base at Dahlgren, and said he also felt strongly that Obama should not act unilaterally but should seek Congressional approval, which Obama has now done.

“I believe that he’s made a precedent-setting move that we need to move back to the way that Jefferson and Madison and all the framers intended this—you bring Congress in because it’s in the Constitution, but you also bring Congress in because we can’t have servicemen and women, their lives without political support,” Kaine said Tuesday.

Virginia’s other senator, Sen. Mark Warner, hasn’t yet said whether he’ll vote for giving Obama the authority to strike, although he said in a statement he approved of Obama’s decision to ask Congress for authority.

“The decision about whether or not to use military force in response to the Syrian atrocities raises significant issues that should be considered and debated by Congress,” Warner said in a statement released Saturday. “This debate will help define how America views its role as a world power.”

The Fredericksburg area’s other congressman, Rep. Rob Wittman, R–1st, said in a statement Tuesday that he has “grave concerns about U.S. involvement in Syria.”

“I remain unconvinced that launching a ‘limited strike’ on Syria without broad international support would present an acceptable outcome to the ongoing civil war. At this time, I am also unconvinced that we have a clear objective and endgame for the mission we are potentially asking our all-volunteer force to execute,” Wittman said. “Asking them to carry out a ‘limited strike’ will not alter the course of Syria to freedom and peace, and it could lead to another enduring combat operation for our forces, one they will be ordered to carry out with limited resources, depleted readiness levels, and a shrinking budget.”

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028