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Nation/World

September 2, 2013

Obama seeks Congress' OK for action on Syria

(Continued)

Dozens of members attended the two-hour classified briefing yesterday in the Capitol, though many emerged saying they needed to see more details of Obama’s plan and more facts about the alleged chemical weapons attack. Many feared giving Obama overly broad authority for military action.

On selling the strategy to Congress, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said, “They have a ways to go.”

“They also have work to do with respect to shoring up the facts of what happened,” Thompson said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans a meeting Tuesday, according to its chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. The Senate Armed Service Committee will gather a day later, said Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the panel.

Kerry confidently predicted that lawmakers would back limited military strikes.

“The stakes are just really too high here,” he said.

Kerry was asked repeatedly in the broadcast interviews what Obama would do if Congress didn’t give its consent. He said he believed lawmakers would recognize the grave implications for letting a chemical weapons attack go unchecked and what that might mean for U.S. efforts to force North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons and prevent Iran from acquiring such capability.

“We are not going to lose this vote,” Kerry said. “The credibility of the United States is on the line.”

Obama is likely to find stronger support in the Democrat-controlled Senate than the GOP-dominated House, yet faces complicated battles in each. Some anti-war Democrats and many tea party-backed Republicans are opposed to any intervention at all, while hawks in both parties, such as McCain, feel the president must do far more to help Syria’s rebels oust Assad from power.

“It can’t just be, in my view, pinprick cruise missiles,” McCain told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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