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LI politicians mixed on Obama's Syria plan

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for "abdicating" his responsibility by asking Congress to approve a "limited" military strike on Syria instead of taking action on his own.

Long Island Democrats were divided on what course to take.

King, the lone Republican of the delegation, said Obama has the legal authority to launch an attack without going to Congress -- a power the president also asserted he has. "There is no legal or constitutional obligation to wait," King said.

Congress does not end its five-week recess until Sept. 9, and King said the president should not delay that long.

"It's time for him to show some leadership," said King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism.

The president did not seek such approval to take part in a 2011 NATO strike on Libya.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who represents part of Nassau County, said he would vote against military action at this point because the United States has not garnered enough international support.

Meeks, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "The international community needs to come together here as it did on Libya."

Meeks was not alone in urging Obama to form an international coalition.

"I am concerned that, unless the international community responds in a unified manner, the Assad regime will be emboldened to widen its use of chemical warfare and further destabilize the region and threaten us," Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said.

Israel said he would back a "surgical" airstrike that degrades Syria's chemical weapons.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) called Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons "unacceptable," adding, "The situation demands careful and deliberate consideration and I look forward to a robust debate in the House of Representatives on the best course of action."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told WCBS radio he backs a limited military strike.

"One possibility could be to use Tomahawk missiles, which are fired from 1,000 miles away -- do not put American troops at risk -- in a limited action to take out Assad's ability to use chemical weapons again," he said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has said she expected Obama to work with an international coalition, was traveling to Asia and could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) said in a statement: "The President's decision at least affords the Congress an opportunity to see the evidence that the Administration has seen. Once this evidence is shared, then each Member of Congress will have the opportunity to reach his or her own judgment."

With Tom Brune

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