Perry
Perry

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, told more than 100 people gathered for a York 912 Patriots meeting Thursday that he's not convinced of the need for a military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

If the U.S. has a strategy on Syria, "I don't know what it is," Perry said.

"In my opinion, we're not going," he added.

President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval for a retaliatory strike against al-Assad, who allegedly used chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack that killed nearly 1,500 people.

Perry said he believes the problem "requires an international response."

Al-Assad's actions are "exceptionally reprehensible," but Obama should be building a coalition of countries to respond, Perry said. The window of opportunity for unilateral action has likely closed, he said.

Obama has not made the case that the U.S. faces an "imminent threat," and attacking al-Assad could make the Syrian president more desperate, Perry said.

Perry took more than a dozen questions Thursday, including one from a man concerned that the U.S. is "on the road to dictatorship."

While some people may be willingly marching down that road, Perry said he does not believe the American people or Congress will let that happen.

Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives are focused on solving the problem of the national debt despite an "intractable president," Perry said.

At Thursday's meeting, several people asked questions about the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform law popularly known as Obamacare.

Under the health care law, for example, children can be kept on their parents' plans until age 26. Insurance companies cannot pull coverage when their clients get sick or deny people coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The law has been heavily criticized for penalizing people who do not get coverage. For example, next year, the penalty is $95 or one percent of income, whichever is higher. In 2015, the penalty will rise to $325 or 2 percent of income.

Republicans have been fighting for a repeal of Obamacare since it was signed into law March 23, 2010.

"I'm for it if we can do it," Perry said Thursday in response to a question about his support of repeal.

But, he said, Republicans must be careful not to back the party into a corner. A standoff on Obamacare could lead to a government shutdown that could backfire if Republicans are forced to fold in response to constituent outrage, Perry said.

Obamacare is "fatally flawed," he said.

"This thing, mathematically, can't work," Perry said.

Another man told Perry that he views Republicans as a "group of weak, irresolute people not standing up for what they believe," bending to the will of Democratic "masters."

In response, Perry repeated something he said several times during the meeting. Republicans are "not a monolithic block," and legislators represent a diversity of opinion, making it tough to enact swift reform, Perry said.

"I don't like it anymore than you do, sir," he said.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.