News / USA

Obama Appeals to Wary Lawmakers on Syria

Obama Appeals to Wary Lawmakers on Syriai
X
September 06, 2013 11:22 PM
As members of Congress return to Washington from their summer recess, President Barack Obama is lobbying skeptical lawmakers for the authority to use military force against Syria as a response to chemical attacks. With large numbers of both Republicans and Democrats saying they don't want the U.S. to get involved in another war, the wording of an authorization could be critical in efforts to win the support the president needs. VOA’s Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill.
Obama Appeals to Wary Lawmakers on Syria
Cindy Saine
As members of Congress return to Washington from their summer recess, President Barack Obama is lobbying skeptical lawmakers for the authority to use military force against Syria as a response to chemical attacks. With large numbers of both Republicans and Democratics saying they don't want the U.S. to get involved in another war, the wording of an authorization could be critical in efforts to win the support the president needs.

President Obama is facing a hard sell and experts say if the vote on Syria were held today it would fail in the House of Representatives.

Obama has said it's his job to make his case to the American people. He conceded, though, during a news conference Friday, his efforts could fail.

"And it's conceivable that at the end of the day I don't persuade a majority of the American people that it's the right thing to do. And then each member of Congress is going to have to decide, ‘if I think it is the right thing to do for America’s national security, the world’s national security, then how do I vote.”

Anti-war sentiment

Lawmakers, even those who support military action, say their offices are being flooded with anti-war telephone calls.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said, “There's no question what's coming in is overwhelmingly negative”.

At a town hall meeting in Arizona, Senator John McCain, a vocal supporter of military action, faced an angry crowd.

“I don’t say no. I say hell no,” said one Arizona voter.

Experts say the coming days will be critical. Congressional scholar Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution said, “Majority support is not yet in sight in the House. In fact, many people are betting against a majority ever materializing. There is going to be a lot of work, a lot of negotiations between the parties.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a draft resolution with the goal of degrading Syria's military capacity so a negotiated settlement of the war becomes more likely.  

Varying resolutions

On the House side, two Democrats have drafted a narrower resolution that would limit the goal to deterring repeat uses of chemical weapons in Syria.

Congressman Gerry Connolly said his resolution “... actually codifies what the president has said he wishes to accomplish and codifies no boots on the ground, trying to make sure that we stay focused on the issue.”

Mann of Brookings said a final resolution will bar boots on the ground. “But how you define the objectives is going to have a bearing on how different factions in the Senate decide whether to support.”  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid formally introduced a resolution Friday on the Senate floor, paving the way for possible votes next week.  

The president addresses the nation Tuesday night.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs