Utah’s Congressional delegation reacts to president’s speech

Posted at 9:52 PM, Sep 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 00:05:21-04

Utah's Congressional delegation has often doubted the president's stance on Syria. Now they're reacting to his latest call for diplomacy.

Most of Utah's delegation says they would vote no if it were up to them, including the state's long democratic Congressman Jim Matheson.

"I was happy to hear that the vote is not going to be called in congress right away and instead this diplomatic solution is going to be pursued," said Rep. Matheson who represents the 4th district.

It was a sigh of relief from the delegation after the president announced the U.S. holding off on military action in Syria, for now. U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch released a statement saying, "I appreciate the President finally speaking to the American people tonight."

The state's longest serving senator also said, "The president and his team have struggled to explain why taking action against the Assad regime is in the America peoples' best interest. I do not believe tonight's speech has done much to clarify this."

Still President Obama's message to Syria was firm, saying "If we fail to act the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons."

For now the Commander in Chief is holding out hope that Syria's strongest ally, Russia will be able to convince the Assad regime to surrender its chemical weapons. If that doesn't work, the president has taken his position but says U.S. Congress would still have its say. In that case, Utah's delegation isn't convinced.

"I don't think the case has been made for an unilateral action for the United States to be made for a military strike that's at least my opinion, if I was asked to vote on it today I'd vote no," Rep. Matheson said.

The same sentiment was echoed by Senator Lee who said in a statement, "The president has not convinced American that the Syrian Civil War represents a vital national security threat to The United States."

In an interview during Fox 13's Live at 4, Congressman Jason Chaffetz says there's no question he would also vote no. "Clearly having had roughly 1,000 phone calls and emails, I had a grand total of three that suggested that going to war with Syria is the right thing, the other 997 people plus said no, please Congressman vote no."

Utah's freshman Congressman Chris Stewart released a statement saying he is against authorizing military strikes in Syria and said, "I am encouraging others to join me in the this."

Congressman Rob Bishop had this to say after the President's speech, "I believe it is in the best interest of The United States to refrain from taking military action in Syria."