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Congressman Reed holds forums on Syria

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Rochester: Congressman Reed holds forums on Syria
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Members of Congress will head back to Washington next week. At the top of their agenda will be President Obama's proposal for military action in Syria. Congressman Tom Reed has been traveling throughout his district to gather input from his constituents. Our Melissa Kakareka attended Congressman Reed's forum in Owego and joined us from the Binghamton newsroom with more.

OWEGO, N.Y. -- Congressman Reed spoke to about 30 people inside the Owego Town Hall Tuesday. It's one of six public forums the congressman is holding about potential military action in Syria following the country's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.

"When you see that horrific action, it's despicable. It's something that's appalling. It hits you personally and emotionally. But as I vote for 700,000 plus people, I need to look at the long term vision and really listen to what they believe is in the best interest of America," said Representative Tom Reed.

Congressman Reed says he's been receiving an overwhelmingly negative response from his district about taking military action in Syria. And that was the majority opinion inside the Owego Town Hall.

"This is a middle eastern problem. It always has been. And the U.S. doesn’t live near the Middle East. We are over here in North America and we should stay in North America and work on our country," said Spencer resident Michael Roy.

But there are others who feel differently. Some think America needs to get involved in order to send a message to the international community.

"If we do nothing, our enemies, like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran, China, North Korea, they all might take this as a sign of weakness and think they can get away with doing something even on our own home soil," said Nichols Resident Gerald McTameny.

Congressman Reed says he will likely vote against military action, saying leaders need to focus on America above everything else right now.

Reed is worried an attack would escalate chemical weapons use in the area. He also wants more answers about the President's long term approach.

Congressman Reed said, "We need further clarification from the President at this time. Is there some compelling information that we are not privy to as to why we need to engage here in this limited way? And also what are your plans, Mr. President, for dealing with the anticipated responses? What happens next? And that hasn’t been answered in my opinion in the way it needs to be answered."

Congressman Reed also held forums in Big Flats and Geneva on Tuesday. He plans to hold public forums in Hornell, Olean and Dunkirk on Wednesday.

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