Secretary of State John F. Kerry predicted Sunday that the U.S. Congress would not “turn its back” on the Syrian people and U.S. allies in the Middle East, but two leading Republicans on Capitol Hill said prospects for support for the use of military authorization are dim.
Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said he doesn’t think Congress would approve such an authorization.
“I don’t think they will,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It may sound real easy when people like Secretary Kerry say that it’s going to be quick and we’re going to go in and send a few cruise missiles, wash our hands and go home. It doesn’t work that way.”
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, blasted President Obama and accused him of abdicating his responsibility by waiting for congressional approval, saying Mr. Obama has the authority as commander in chief to act against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Mr. Obama said Saturday he believes he has that authority as well, but that the country and the case will be stronger by going to Congress first.
“If we can’t stop Syria on a red line with chemical weapons, how can anyone expect us to stop Iran with a red line on nuclear weapons?” Mr. King said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it is going to difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there’s going to be time over the next nine days for opposition to build up to it.”
Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said Mr. Obama made the right decision by seeking congressional authority.
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“I think that if there is another serious incident by the Syrians, if they again use chemical weapons, as Secretary Kerry suggested, the president has already stated he feels he has the international authority to move forward,” Mr. Reed said.
At the same time, Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, echoed Mr. Kerry’s sentiments on CNN by saying he thinks the Congress will rise to the occasion on the issue.