All three members of Vermont's congressional delegation support President Obama's call for a formal declaration of war against the terrorist group ISIS, but do not support sending a large number of U.S. troops to Syria as part of the military strategy.
In his speech to the country on Sunday night, President Obama called on Congress to specifically give him the authorization to use military force against ISIS. To date, the president has been relying on authorization granted by Congress after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sen. Patrick Leahy says this is an important debate for Congress to have and he'll support only a limited involvement by U.S. ground troops.
“We could send a million American troops all over the world, or we could work with the countries and say, ‘You have some responsibility to protect your own country and the United States can't come in and do it all for you,'" Leahy said.
The president made it clear he does not support sending large numbers of U.S. troops to Syria to fight ISIS. Instead, he's backing a plan to build a coalition that would include the nations of NATO and many countries in the Middle East. The coalition would work together with local forces to confront ISIS.
Leahy thinks this international approach is essential.
"The way we're going to defeat [ISIS] is the leaders of the counties themselves stand up and say, ‘This is not the Muslim religion, this is not the way we are this is not our history. These are evil, evil people and we will stand up and fight them,’” said Leahy.
Rep. Peter Welch was pleased that the president called on Congress to authorize the use of military power.
“It's a huge decision if you're going to deploy any forces in any way. So, my view? Congress has an absolute responsibility to debate and vote on an authorization for the use of military force,” Welch said.
And Welch says it would be a huge mistake for this country to send a large number of troops to Syria to fight ISIS.
“If we send our military, they'll get the job done. But then what happens in the aftermath?" Welch asked. "We're left with nation building. And we've got our soldiers over there where ISIS is recruiting people to come in and kill them, and we have to try to put the society back together and we saw what happened in Iraq with that."
In a prepared statement, Sen. Bernie Sanders said he supported the president. Sanders said an international coalition is needed.
"We must learn the lesson of Iraq,” Sanders said in the statement. “American troops should not be engaged in perpetual warfare in the Middle East."