Rep. Charles Rangel is celebrating developments between the U.S. and Russia toward persuading Syrian President Bashir al-Assad to place his government’s chemical weapons under international control.
Rangel had previously said that he would vote against a U.S.-led military intervention, one of the few Democrats to do so.
“I am pleased that the President has decided to explore diplomatic means of resolving this crisis in Syria,” Rangel said in a statement. “I am optimistic that the international community can come together to urge Assad to do the right thing and surrender his chemical weapons.”
Earlier this month, Rangel had said he was opposed to military action in Syria because of the possibility of an escalation, despite the original plan only calling for limited air strikes. He said he would only support such measures if the draft were reinstated and women were required to register for Selective Service.
“If we had a draft, we would not be doing the things we do in Kosovo, Panama, Iraq,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would be prepared [to go to war] if it were to be possible for their constituents to be drafted … if they have to go to the funerals I go to.”
On Saturday, U.S. and Russian diplomats reached an agreement to search for and destroy all aspects of Syria’s chemical weapons program. It avoided a potentially divisive vote in Congress for military action, although many are questioning the sincerity of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commitment.
“Now is the time for Congress to focus on the urgent matters in front of us here at home,” Rangel said in the statement, “such as the impending vote on the debt ceiling, avoiding a potential government shutdown, and implementing the Affordable Care Act.”