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Mass. delegates unswayed on Syria strikes

Russian plan called promising

WASHINGTON — No one in the Massachusetts congressional delegation has expressed support for military strikes against Syria to punish its leader for the alleged use of chemical weapons, according to a survey of the all-Democrat delegation by the Globe.

A number of the Massachusetts members expressed skepticism at military action, with five members poised to vote against the current resolution as of Monday.

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Most of the members polled by the Globe spoke before news broke Monday that Syria was considering a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control, which could further dampen support for military force. But their staffs say their positions remain the same.

Following a Monday White House briefing by Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, Representative James McGovern of Worcester said that he sees the Russian proposal as a promising solution to deter US attacks on Syria. He opposes a military strike.

“What I’m particularly interested in right now is the prospect of pursuing this proposal by the Russians,” said McGovern in an interview.

McGovern renewed his call on Obama to withdraw his request for congressional authorization for a military attack on Syria. On Sunday, while appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McGovern said he didn’t believe the president had the support necessary to win a vote on Syria.

Representative Michael Capuano of Somerville, who is also expected to vote against a military strike, said in a statement to the Globe on Monday that he is “encouraged by the latest proposal for Syria to give up control over its chemical weapons.”

Other members who could be reached and who expressed skepticism or might vote no were representatives Richard Neal of Springfield, Stephen Lynch of South Boston, and Niki Tsongas of Lowell.

Neal, the dean of the state’s House members, said he believes a sizeable majority of his colleagues will vote no.

Representative Joseph Kennedy III, of Brookline, is among those who have been noncommittal. Kennedy had spoken most forcefully in the past about involving the United States in Syria. But in a statement to the Globe on Friday, Kennedy cited “serious concerns with the current Senate resolution because I believe its parameters are too broad and its long-term strategy too murky.”

William Keating of Bourne returned to Washington twice last week for a briefing and hearing, and a spokeswoman on Monday said he will continue to gather information before determining how he will vote.

Senator Edward Markey has been criticized by some for declining to take a position when his own panel, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, approved a resolution to use force on Wednesday by a 10-to-7 vote. Senator Elizabeth Warren has not indicated how she will vote.

A spokeswoman for John Tierney of Salem said that at the moment he does not think the case for intervention has yet been convincingly made. He will be attending briefings Monday and Tuesday and believes all information available must be considered before a final vote is taken, she said.

Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.
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