After keeping decidely mum on the issue up until President Obama announced over the weekend that he intended to seek Congressional authorization for a military strike, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has since spun into action for the president’s cause, quickly making plans to review and shore up support for Obama’s use of force resolution. Via Roll Call:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his support for military action in Syria late Saturday, also announcing that Senate hearings and briefings on the issue will be held the week of Labor Day. …
The Nevada Democrat said that Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., would lead the effort to review President Barack Obama’s request for an authorization for use of military force against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons in that country. Menendez has lead jurisdiction, but Reid said the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees would also convene briefings in both classified and unclassified settings.
“Following the hearings and briefings, the full Senate will convene and debate a resolution authorizing the use of limited military force against Syria. The Senate will vote on the resolution no later than the week of September 9, as requested by the Obama administration,” Reid said. This will provide ample time for a robust public debate, while ensuring that this critical issue receives a vote in a timely fashion.”
Whether or not there will be enough Congressional support to pass the president’s resolution, however, has been an entirely open question. Emblematic of some of the probable Republican hesitation, perhaps, Sen. John McCain has been plenty vocal about his support for military action in Syria but less enthusiastic about voting for the president’s resolution specifically, looking for a clearer outline on the United States’ precise strategy and intentions.
The White House will be leaning on Reid to garner the necessary support, but Reid would need all/most of his Democratic caucus and/or several willing Republicans to get behind it to come up with the votes; as much as some of his like minded Democratic colleagues won’t want to embarrass the president, that might not be enough to get everyone to overlook their war-wariness. The WSJ reports, however, that Reid is apparently confident that he will have the votes to pass the resolution, even in the event of a potential filibuster to block it, according to an aide familiar with the situation:
Senate Democratic leaders are voicing confidence that they will be able to pass a resolution authorizing an attack on Syria. …
Democrats have said, however, that the broadly worded resolution submitted by the White House Saturday night would have to be revamped in order to pass the Senate. Mr. Reid’s staff is working with aides to Mr. Menendez to redraft the resolution. Mr. Menendez said in the CNN interview that it would likely be amended to included a ban on U.S. troops being deployed in Syria and time limit on the authorization.
With such changes, a senior Senate Democratic aide predicted few defections from the Senate’s 54 Democrats and allied members. The White House is counting on support from hawkish Republicans like Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R.,S.C.). If opponents mount a filibuster, it would take 60 votes to end the delaying tactics and bring the measure to the vote.
“I really think we will keep most of our folks,’’ the aide said.
Hmm. Reid and his Senatorial whipping, along with the White House’s furious lobbying blitzkreig, will be doing their darndest to favorably align Congressional opinion, but National Review reports that the Senate Republican leadership doesn’t sound ready to go all-in as resolutely as House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor did earlier today:
“Senate Leadership is not likely to go all in as quickly as House Republican leadership did today,” a Senate Republican aide says. “Obama will have to keep making his case over here.” …
“I appreciate the President’s briefing today at the White House and would encourage him to continue updating the American people,” McConnell said. “While we are learning more about his plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is he thinks needs to be done-and can be accomplished-in Syria and the region.”
‘We need more information’ seems to be the developing line, and Congress is poised to spend the next several days tacking out a pros-and-cons list before officially coming back together next week.