Nunes: Diplomacy is the only option in Syria

Rep. Devin Nunes believes a military strike on Syria is a bad idea, and that only diplomacy is a real solution.Rep. Devin Nunes believes a military strike on Syria is a bad idea, and that only diplomacy is a real solution.Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told a group of Fresno business leaders Friday that he believes the United States must seek a diplomatic solution to rising tension with Syria.

Nunes spoke at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce's Eggs & Issues breakfast at University Square Hotel in Fresno.

Nunes thinks the Senate will vote on a Syrian strike resolution next week, and it could reach the House by the end of next week or the following week.

"It's probably not going to pass the House," Nunes said.

Nunes, who visited Syria late last year, said the situation in the country was "urgent" at that time, and United States intervention could've been effective then. He believes the conflict, which he called "a proxy war with Iran," has evolved to make such intervention a bad idea now.

"I don't see, tactically, what we can do in engaging with some small shot across the bow," Nunes said.

Nunes added that it would take "boots on the ground" to secure chemical weapon sites, which likely have women, children and Christians located nearby in anticipation of strikes.

He said "dithering" by the White House has led to the current untenable situation.

Nunes, who is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he believes chemical weapons were used in Syria, but he wasn't sure what kind of gas was deployed and who illegally used it.

"Whose side do you want to be on if they all used chemical weapons," Nunes asked.

Nunes also touched on issues including immigration reform, free trade, a government shutdown and the Affordable Care Act.

Nunes said he continues to support comprehensive immigration reform, and he believes an agreement can be made in Congress. But he said progress is being impeded by people who seek to politicize the issue. He said protests in favor of comprehensive immigration reform have targeted the Valley's House GOP delegation, which is generally in favor of a comprehensive plan.

He said that sends a confusing message to the country.

"It's a pretty stupid strategy," Nunes said.

Nunes struck a bit of an "I told you so" tone when discussing recent problems in implementing the Affordable Care Act. There has been talk in conservative circles of defunding Obamacare through the continuing resolution process next month that would keep the government operating. While Nunes opposes the law, he called such a move "a loser strategy."

He said such a tactic would likely lead to a complete government shutdown, instead of a more nuanced shutdown "that could prove there are government agencies we can do without."

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, Nunes added that two free-trade agreements he has shepherded through the House — The European Union-United States Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership — are key to helping improve the economy and create jobs in the US.

"There is nothing we can get done that is more important than those agreements," he said.