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Most LI lawmakers undecided on Syria strike

(L-R) U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), U.S. Rep.

(L-R) U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), and U.S. Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) arrive for a joint House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees briefing on Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 9, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Most members of Long Island's congressional delegation said Monday they were undecided about authorizing a military strike against Syria, with several pressing for assurances that U.S. troops would not be deployed.

But Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said again that he plans to vote for the authorization, while Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said he was "leaning toward a yes."

Their comments came as Congress prepared to take up President Barack Obama's request for authorization to use military force in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad's government for what he says is the use of chemical weapons to kill 1,400 citizens near Damascus.

Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said Monday they were undecided.

McCarthy believes Obama's request is "too open-ended," and that any authorization needs to be "targeted and limited," chief of staff Stuart Chapman said.

Bishop attended classified intelligence briefings Monday and "wants to have all available information before making a decision," spokesman Oliver Longwell said.

Meeks said in August that he opposed U.S. involvement in Syria. But on Monday he said he was undecided because he believes any U.S. military action should occur only in partnership with international allies.

"I strongly believe that any military intervention, however limited, should be international in scope," Meeks said in a statement.

Israel spokeswoman Samantha Slater said he was leaning toward a yes, but that Obama's plan was too "open-ended." Israel is working to "narrow the language" of the authorization bill to ensure that U.S. troops will not be deployed, Slater said.

Angie Hu, spokeswoman for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), said the senator attended a classified briefing at the White House on Monday night and planned to attend additional briefings this week and to question the administration "on their strategy and objectives before deciding on her vote."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that he understood "the last thing America needs or wants is a protracted conflict in the Middle East when our primary focus must be jobs, the economy and the middle class."

But he said he is supporting Obama's plan because "it prohibits any boots on the ground and puts strict time limits on American involvement in Syria while still allowing an appropriate response to the use of weapons of mass destruction."

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