Schatz and Gabbard: Views on Syria

Apr 17, 2017

Senator Brian Schatz answered questions at his Town Hall meeting at Chaminade University.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Two members of Hawai’i’s Congressional Delegation returned home for the April Recess to meet with constituents.   HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports. 

Senator Brian Schatz conducted a mid-day Town Hall meeting Monday at Chaminade University.   Ralph Santo asked the senator about U.S. military options in Syria.

(Santo) “If Trump changes the mission several hundreds of U.S. soldiers from assisting in the defeat of ISIS into regime change of Assad, then he is unnecessarily and dangerously exposing them to attack by the Syrian Army or possibly by allies such as Russia and Iran.  I’ll have your response.”

(Schatz)  “I think there has to be a post-Assad Syria.  That does not mean that the United States should be precipitating a toppling of Assad.  Any decision at that level would be a change in our posture; in what our men and women are doing in Syria and would require congressional authorization.   But, this is a tough one and it requires that we learn the lessons of the last two decades which is that, as awful as it is, we are capable of making it worse.”

Senator Schatz wants to review the War Powers Resolution to require legislative approval before waging war.  Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard conducted a Town Hall in Kailua in Windward O’ahu Saturday.   Ruth Thomas asked the Congresswoman about her motivation for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in January.

(Thomas)  “What was the goal and the intention of being there and meeting with him.  You are a legitimate representative for your country.  But when you meet with a monster like that you legitimize him (applause).”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at her Town Hall meeting in Kailua, O'ahu, Saturday night.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

(Gabbard)  “My reason for going to Syria was to see and hear  first hand, for myself, from the Syrian people, in the cause for peace.  The recent reckless escalation by Donald Trump only continues that regime-change war that has been waged now for years and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrian people, millions of people being forced to leave their homes and has actually in these terrorist groups that we are supposed to be trying to defeat are actually becoming stronger.”

Senator Schatz says there’s much work to be done on Capitol Hill but believes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is dead.  And his job in the coming months will be three-fold.

Senator Schatz at Mamiya Theater, Chaminate University
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“The first is, I’m on the Appropriations Committee and it is absolutely critical that I fight for federal funding for the state of Hawai’i.  The second thing, which is new, is resisting the Trump agenda.  And the third thing is, even as you do these battles that are about lawfulness, that are about core values, that are about the Constitution that are literally about the country,  you also try to find room for bi-partisanship.”

Congresswoman Gabbard will continue to hear from her diverse constituencies in the 2nd District of rural O’ahu and the neighbor islands.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at Kainalu Elementary School, Kailua, O'ahu
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“I’m gonna continue to do my job of representing Hawai’i and making the very best decision I can on each of these issues, whether they be domestic or issues of global impact, on what is best for the people of Hawai’i and what is best for the people of our country.  And I won’t apologize for that (applause).

Senator Schatz will have a Town Hall meeting in Hilo on the Big Island, Tuesday.  Congresswoman Gabbard in Kahului, Maui, Thursday.   Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.