WASHINGTON – Seeking to avoid embarrassing President Barack Obama on the world
stage, members of Congress are exploring alternative measures to a vote that
would authorize military force in Syria.
If held today, a vote in the
House of Representatives would fail overwhelmingly, by most counts. Over 150
members have already declared their opposition, with only two dozen in
Neither is Senate approval assured. And American public opinion is
firmly against military intervention, according to recent polls.
the Senate could take up the resolution this week, a House vote has not been
scheduled. Speaker John Boehner (ROhio) has yet to lay out a path for the
measure either through a committee or directly to the chamber floor.
vote may be delayed until the United Nations releases its report on findings of
chemical weapons use, sources say. Congress may also adopt a plan proposed by
two Democratic senators, Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) and Joe Manchin (West
Virginia), which would give Syrian President Bashar Assad 45 days to sign the
Chemical Weapons Convention and cede control of his stockpiles to an
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that
a finding of chemical weapons use in Syria by the UN investigations team would
justify a “strong response” from the international community. But he also
supported the prospect of Assad forfeiting his chemical weapons arsenal, not
just to be monitored but ultimately to be destroyed, as is the mandate of the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Secretary of State
John Kerry, along with other top Obama administration officials, will be on
Capitol Hill “throughout the week” in an attempt to whip up support, State
Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Monday.
Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage
Obama stopped by
a reception with Senate Republicans on Sunday night and visited with Senate
Democrats earlier in the weekend. He will make a rare trip to Capitol Hill to
meet with the Democratic caucus on Tuesday, shortly before delivering a national
address from the White House.
Debate on the authorization measure began
on the floors of both chambers of Congress only on Monday.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is expected to bring the resolution to the
floor on Wednesday, but only if he believes enough votes are there to approve
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