GOP Congressman Clashes With John Kerry on Syria Action During Seriously Tense Exchange

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) grilled Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria during his appearance before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. The exchange quickly got testy as the two men argued over the administration’s pending military strike against the war-torn nation accused of using chemical weapons.

After being asked if any potential military strikes should be put on hold, Kerry pointed out that the Senate already delayed the vote on its Syria resolution on Monday night. Miller argued the Senate only delayed the resolution because there weren’t enough votes to pass it. “You know that,” the lawmaker said.

“Actually, no I don’t,” Kerry replied.

“Well, I do,” Miller shot back.

“Well, I’m glad you know something. I think, this should not be a political discussion,” Kerry responded.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 10: House Armed Services Committe member Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) (C) argues with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) with fellow committee members Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) (L) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) during a committe hearing about Syria on Capitol Hill September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on Syria. Credit: AP

Miller said he was not talking politics, but telling the “truth” about why the Senate hit the brakes on the use-of-force resolution. However, his comments only further riled up the secretary of state.

“Do you want to play politics here or do you want to get a policy in place? The policy that can be put in place is to try to get this particular option of getting control of chemical weapons in place,” Kerry lectured. “If you want to undermine that, then play the politics.”

Miller then had to ask the chairman of the committee to limit the witness’ answers to the questions asked as Kerry talked over him.

When asked what he meant when he said the strike on Syria would be “incredibly small,” Kerry explained it would be small in comparison to military action in places like Iraq. “It’s not a years war,” he said.

Kerry also argued that the existence of chemical weapons in an unstable Syria threatens the security of the United States. But Rep. Miller quickly noted that North Korea has an even larger stockpile of chemical weapons and asked if the U.S. planned to strike that country as well.

“But you really don’t want answers, do you?” Kerry said after explaining that the administration is currently engaged in serious efforts to limit chemical weapons in North Korea.

“This is not the Senate. We do not filibuster here,” Miller shot back after a tense back-and-forth.

“I’m trying to give you an answer,” Kerry said.

Watch the testy exchange below: