- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 31, 2013

Faced with the most momentous foreign policy vote in years, Congress has decided on the go-slow approach, with leaders saying they will take their time in deciding whether to approve retaliatory strikes against Syria.

Senate Democrats and House Republicans, each in control of their respective chambers, won’t vote on military action on Syria until next week — taking a scheduling cue from President Obama, who, while saying Saturday that he would seek the approval of Congress, showed little urgency in demanding action.

The delay gives Mr. Obama more time to make his case for a vote that, if held now, the president might lose.


SEE ALSO: Rep. Mike Rogers: Congress will back Obama on Syria


The campaign to build public and congressional support began in earnest Sunday when Secretary of State John F. Kerry blitzed the news networks to defend Mr. Obama’s decision and bolster the arguments for a strike on Syria with more details on the deadly Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack.

Mr. Kerry said the latest test results from victims’ blood and hair samples prove that Syrian forces used sarin in the attack, and the former senator predicted that lawmakers in the House and Senate would back the president.

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


SEE ALSO: John Kerry: Evidence of nerve agent sarin in Syria


The secretary of state made the remarks just hours before a closed-door afternoon briefing for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Several lawmakers exiting the meeting indicated the language in the authorization resolution the president sent to Congress on Saturday is overly broad.

Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, said he would appreciate a narrower resolution but indicated that he is leaning “no” in any case.

“My concern is it’s a civil war and it’s a religious war; I’m not sure it directly impacts the national security interests of the United States,” he said.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat, said the meeting was crucial in helping members make better-informed decisions.

“This has nothing to do with politics; this has everything to do with making sure an international norm that was violated by the Syrian government cannot and should not go unanswered,” she said. “This is important for America. It’s important for the world, and the deliberative process we’re going to go through is going to help strengthen our response.”

Earlier, on the Sunday talk shows, Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, backed the president’s call for action.

“I think that Congress will rise to its Article 1 constitutional responsibilities to provide for the general defense of the United States,” the Michigan Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But it’s going to take that healthy debate to get there.”

Other Republicans were not as bullish.

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