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Lawmakers begin to grapple with Syria question

Saturday - 8/31/2013, 10:10pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Members of Congress are grappling with whether to sign off on President Barack Obama's plan to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The debate over what action, if any, Congress might approve is in its infancy as lawmakers prepare for public hearings next week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the first contours began emerging within hours of Obama's announcement.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn (KOHR'-nihn) of Texas says he doesn't believe Syria should go unpunished for the attack. But, he says, "we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is." He adds, "What the president may perceive as limited ... won't stop there."

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are arguing for a strategy that seeks to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. They've issued a joint statement saying any operation should be broader in scope than the "limited" scope Obama described. They call the conflict in Syria "a growing threat to our national security interests."

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