As U.S. lawmakers face the heavy burden of deciding whether to back President Barack Obama's plan to strike Syria, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is calling for congressional action that goes beyond the question of whether to bomb targets in the country.
"This is about punishing Assad, this is about deterring and degrading significantly his ability to deliver further chemical weapons against innocent civilians," Menendez said in an interview on WNYC's The Takeaway. "However in doing so you actually significantly degrade the regime's overall ability to fight."
Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling for military intervention, support for rebels and non-military actions to undermine Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The Senator said he's holding hearings on the issue starting today, and he expects to advance a resolution from committee to the full Senate next week. However, expects opposition in the House of Representatives. But Menendez hopes members will be swayed by last month's apparent chemical attack that killed more than a thousand Syrian civilians, including 400 children, he said.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie isn't discussing his position on whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria. At a press conference in Newark today, Christie said he is waiting for Congress and the President to decide.
“Certainly the use of chemical weapons is something that just is intolerable for civilized society,” Christie said.