U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton told town hall meeting attendees Tuesday night in Durango that excluding new information, he will not vote to authorize U.S. military involvement in Syria.
Tipton’s opposition to action in Syria puts him at odds with the White House, which is pursuing congressional authorization for a limited strike in Syria to dissuade besieged Syrian President Bashar Assad from again using chemical weapons on his own people, which the U.S. claims he did last month outside Damascus.
France has released declassified intelligence supporting the United States’ claim.
“My vote right now, barring new knowledge, is ‘no,’” Tipton said.
Tipton’s opposition puts him at odds with Republican leadership. Just hours before Tipton told a crowded town hall at Durango Public Library about his opposition to a military strike, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor followed Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham in calling for U.S. intervention in Syria.
Tipton said he could change his mind after an intelligence briefing he is scheduled to receive upon returning to Washington.
Tipton joins U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the most prominent Republicans to come out against U.S. military action in Syria.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Monday on supporting a strike on Syria.
Tipton’s disclosure came after a question by Ross White, told Tipton he believed U.S. military action in Syria was the wrong course.
“I think diplomacy is a lot better option. It’s hard, no doubt, to get people who are determined they’re right to listen, but better than sending missiles,” White said, before invoking the U.S. record in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An estimated 100,000-plus Syrians have been killed since rebels first attempted to oust Assad two years ago, and 4 million to 5 million Syrians have fled the country.
Both the American and French governments claim Assad used chemical weapons – killing more than 1,400 Syrian civilians in a Damascus suburb a month ago.
International laws governing war have long reviled chemical weapons, whose use was first banned in the 1925 Geneva Protocol after the horrific effects of chemical weapons unleashed in World War I.
Tipton told White that images of Syrian children’s suffering were harrowing.
“We have our heart torn out when we see children laying there,” he said.
“This is a tragedy, but it is a civil war, not a threat to the United States or our interest,” he said. “Had this happened to an ally, maybe it would be a different issue.”
Tipton urged calculations about warfare to be made with humility and caution, not emotion.
“Once we fire a missile, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Someone in the back of the crowd called out, “We do. Civilians will die!”
The room applauded.