Congress Split: Syrian Response Divides Nation


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Congress may mirror America after all. After President Barack Obama’s Saturday Rose Garden speech proclaiming his decision to take military action in response to Syria’s chemical weapons aggression, legislators appear to be split in their anticipated response. Obama will look to Congress for authorization when lawmakers return from recess a week from now. Public opinion polling shows a split in how Americans feel about US military action.

A Tuesday hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will start debates on the action. At close of business Saturday, the White House delivered a draft resolution authorizing the President to initiate military force. The draft is open-ended in what timeline or military methods would be engaged for a strike. The Administration has the week to make its case to the legislative branch.

A Washington Post article divides congressional leanings into five caucuses... 1) the do it now, already including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); 2) the want bigger military action including Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.); 3) the happy to debate the issue, reserving judgment is the largest and includes Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Representative Trey Radel (R-Fla.); 4) the skeptical, including Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); 5) and the anti-military action, including Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY).

"Syria... is capable of facing up to any external aggression just as it faces up to internal aggression every day, in the form of terrorist groups and those that support them," Syrian President Bashar al-Asad responded on Sunday to Obama’s address.

In Obama’s Saturday address, with Vice President Joe Biden at his shoulder, the President asked Congress to support a strike aimed at al-Asad’s regime. Obama did assert that he has, “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization."

World leaders are also situated on either side of the line. Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently opposes military retaliation. British Prime Minister David Cameron was just denied in his call for military strikes against Damascus by the House of Commons. Presently, the only sizable allies supporting Obama’s decision are France and Saudi Arabia. UN inspectors are still finishing up investigations of the chemical weapons attacks having just returned to Rotterdam after four days gathering samples in Damascus.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]