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US Congress Action on Syria on Hold for Now

President Barack Obama arrives on Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats and Republicans on Syria, Sept. 10, 2013.
President Barack Obama arrives on Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats and Republicans on Syria, Sept. 10, 2013.
Michael Bowman
Hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was to address the nation on the need to confront Syria’s use of chemical weapons, he met with senators of both major political parties on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers emerged saying a vote authorizing the use of force against Syria is unlikely for now, and any final resolution will take international diplomatic developments into account.

President Obama had little to say after meeting separately with Democratic and Republican senators.

“It was a good conversation. Thank you very much," said President Obama.

Late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed a vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria - a measure approved last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee’s top Republican, Senator Bob Corker, helped craft the resolution, but now says it is on hold pending a Russian proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons.

“I would be very surprised to see any vote on the Senate floor in the short term. I think our best course of action is to pause, to understand whether this [Russian proposal] is credible or not," said Corker.

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said President Obama is not overly optimistic that diplomacy can end the Syrian crisis, but is willing to pursue non-military avenues.

“What he has basically asked is for some time to work this out - a matter of days, into next week. And I think that is reasonable," said Durbin.

Majority Leader Reid decides what measures are brought to the Senate floor and when.

“It is important we do this well, not quickly. If something can be done diplomatically, I am totally satisfied with that," said Reid.

The wait-and-see approach constitutes a dramatic shift from last week, when the Obama administration and some of its allies on Capitol Hill warned of grave consequences if Congress failed to promptly authorize military strikes against Syria. Since then, a growing number of lawmakers of both parties have gone on record opposing the use of force.

A small group of senators has proposed an alternative resolution that does not rule out military action, but gives 45 days for Syria to hand over chemical weapons.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a House panel that “for this diplomatic option to have a chance at succeeding, the credible, real threat of U.S. military action must continue.''

Senator Corker agreed.

“The authorization of military force absolutely needs to remain on the table. Otherwise I do not think these negotiations will go anywhere," he said.

Polls show Americans overwhelmingly oppose military intervention in Syria, a fact that has weighed heavily on congressional deliberations to date.

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by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City, NJ
September 11, 2013 4:13 AM
During the Bush Administration Mr.Obama was one of those who opposed President Bush for war that has no proof of WMD, Now there are proof that Assad used chemical weapon on the people of Syria, especially the kids. What is Mr. Obama position in this matter? Secondly to the Anti War people, when Assad used chemical weapon on those kids, why your did not opposed him? We need justice for those kids and the Syrian people. Assad must be held accountable for his action. He is a war criminal. This is shame to the UN, the EU, and the so called world leaders. Mr. Obama was just bluffing, He is not man of his war. he scare of Assad, Iran and Russia.


by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 10, 2013 6:07 PM
If Obama is the smartest person in the room as is suggested elsewhere, I wonder what to make kf the rest lf the world! This sudden turn of events is not Obama's strategy. He was forced into it. I hope he has the wisdom to take advantage of the unexpected turn of events. When we have idiots like Reid, Polosi and Bohener, we could certainly use smart people in the room. Under the threat of military action, no sane person will agree to give up anything. For a powerful country like ours, we don't need explicit threat, as it is always going to be there. Obama does not need a rain check from Congress, but some honest feedback from the average Joe.

In Response

by: Nguyễn from: US
September 11, 2013 9:05 AM
Senator Corker refused to tie the hands of Supreme Leader of US armed forces. The rain check from Congress would make Obama's voice much stronger internationally, would make a little easier and faster for American to pacify the world.


by: Anonymous
September 10, 2013 5:48 PM
Alternatives:
Clamp down and secure chemical weapons immediatly before some crazies get ahold of them.

Order a cease fire on assads side.

Then force a democratic election in Syria hosted by the international community. This should satisfy the Syrians.


by: Nguyễn from: US
September 10, 2013 2:21 PM
Military strike should'nt be the first choice but Obama still needs a raincheck from Congress to do so.

In Response

by: John Rively from: Logan, UT 84321
September 10, 2013 10:00 PM
The Anglo-American term is indirect war, Basil Liddel-Hart the fm r WW1 British Army officer who wrote STRATEGY. This is the revered text of war. He developed the Theory of Armored Warfare. The only strategic concern of/in Syria is the control of the WMD. These weapons have Tel Aviv's attention to be sure. John Rively

In Response

by: Valerie Martin
September 10, 2013 3:12 PM
As a war weary American, I respect the POTUS attempts to solve this issue w/o military action! He really is, always, the smartest person in the room.

President Obama is a student of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
~ Sun Tzu~

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