TEHRAN (FNA)- While most top congressional leaders have vowed to back President Barack Obama in seeking authority to launch missile strikes on Syria, there’s little evidence that they can — or even want to — help him round up the rank-and file-Republicans he’ll need to win a vote in the House, reports said.
Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman said that he “expects the White House to provide answers to members’ questions and take the lead on any whipping effort”. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose aides and allies run the whip process, isn’t yet in favor of Obama’s request for military authority in Syria.
Several lawmakers and aides who have been canvassing support say that nearly 80 percent of the House Republican Conference is, to some degree, opposed to launching strikes in Syria. Informal counts by Obama allies show that support in Congress for Obama’s plans is in the low dozens, the Politico reported.
While a handful of lawmakers pledged support for striking Syria inside a White House meeting with Obama Tuesday, the hell-no caucus in the House gathered steam outside, portending a vicious, multi-factional fight over the most somber issue that ever faces Washington — whether to deploy military force. In the House, neither Republican nor Democratic leaders are in a position to speak for their rank-and-file. Several lawmakers and senior aides interviewed by Politico Tuesday wondered about the fallout for leadership if the resolution is resoundingly defeated.
Of course, there’s time, and classified briefings and arm-twisting from committee chairmen can help change lawmakers’ moods and opinions. But at this point, the overwhelming narrative is that authorizing military action in Syria will be one of the toughest sells of Obama’s time in the White House.
The biggest problem for Obama — and now Boehner — is that the opposition is coming from precisely the places where many expected the president to find support. The thought throughout top levels of the House Republican Conference is that Obama needs to garner backing from Republicans on the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees, and the Appropriations subcommittees on Defense and Foreign Operations. He should also look in and around leadership, these sources said.
In the recent days, the US and other western countries have adopted the rhetoric of war against Syria over allegations that the Syrian government was behind a recent chemical attack near Damascus.
The call for military strike intensified after the militants operating inside Syria and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed on August 21 that hundreds had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar. The Syrian government has strongly denied the claim, accusing the militants of the attack.
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