ICYMI: Gowdy, Duncan oppose military action in Syria

September 4, 2013
Press Release

Ron Barnett
Staff writer

U.S. Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan told constituents Monday that they’re glad President Obama decided to ask Congress before taking military action against Syria for alleged chemical attacks, but they both oppose sending U.S. forces into the civil war there.

“The case has not been made to me of why the United States should be involved in Syria,” Gowdy, the 4th District representative said, drawing loud applause.

Speaking to a friendly crowd on the grounds of the historic Hopkins Farm near the boundary between the 3rd and 4th congressional districts in the countryside of southern Greenville County, the Republican congressmen also said they plan to do everything they can to defund Obamacare.

“Throw it in the floor and stomp on it, because it is killing America,” Duncan, who represents the 3rd District, told the crowd after a fried chicken picnic dinner.

In the last week before Congress returns from its summer recess, the two tea party favorites spoke outside an antebellum home near the site of a 1775 Revolutionary War battle in which local Patriots routed the Tories.

Historical references popped up several times during the 90-minute question and answer session, with Duncan basing his argument for the state’s Defense of Marriage Act on the decisions made by the founding fathers in 1787 to that he said left such issues up to the states.

On Syria, both congressmen said they hadn’t seen all the intelligence but had heard nothing that convinced them that an attack is in the nation’s interest.

Duncan said he is flying back to Washington this morning for a hearing on Syria with the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I don’t see where any imminent threat to the United States is evident,” he said. “I do believe that chemical weapons were probably used in Syria but I don’t understand and don’t see a way that we involve the United States in this. So I plan on voting no.”

He said he has been talking with constituents in the days since the Aug. 21 attack that killed at least 1,400 people, many of them children, and had heard no support for striking Syria.

“I have not had a single person, not a single person, in over 92 Facebook posts just a little while ago in a question we posed, having a single constituent or a South Carolinian saying let’s go to war in Syria,” Duncan said. “To a person they said let’s stay out of Syria.”

He didn’t mention his colleague in the other chamber, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of Seneca, who told reporters before speaking to a chamber of commerce group in Goose Creek earlier in the day, “I want a strike that will degrade Assad's ability to deliver chemical weapons and change the tide of battle,” The Associated Press reported.

Gowdy questioned why the United States would go to war against Syria unless regime change is the goal – which Administration officials have ruled out.

Duncan cast suspicion on the timing of the issue, implying that Obama is using it as a distraction away from other issues such as implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the approaching budget impasse.

“It’s ironic that the president went on TV at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, when most Americans at that point in time were focused on college football, to talk about something as grave as involving United States military,” he said.

Both Congressmen said they would not vote for a resolution to continue funding the government after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 if it includes funding Obamacare, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

They also said they wouldn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling, which the federal government will face next month, unless it goes along with deep cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and especially Obamacare.