We're at least nine days away from Congress and Senate voting on a potential U.S. strike against Syria, a retaliatory action after the Assad regime allegedly killed over 1,400 citizens with chemical weapons last week. So far, there's almost no indication which way this vote will go.
Secretary of State John Kerry is certain the House will follow the President's wishes and authorize an attack. But Politico says the President faces an "uphill battle" in the days ahead because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain "highly skeptical," according to Buzzfeed, of the President's authorization bill sent to Congress on Saturday evening.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy called the authorization draft, written by Obama's core team of advisors, "too open-ended" after the classified briefings held on Capitol Hill on Sunday. Roughly 60-70 House members and a handful of Senators showed up on their long weekend to attend the meetings where the President's top advisers presented their case for an attack.
"I know it’s going to be amended in the Senate," Leahy told reporters after the meeting. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Robert Menendez are already working on revisions to to "narrow the scope for any U.S. military mission in Syria," Politico reports.
While members of both parties agree the President made the right move allowing Congress to vote, there's little to no consensus on whether or not we should attack. Or how. There's no party line to toe this time. Instead, lawmakers are listening and developing reasoned decisions about what the best possible next step should be. "I’m still very skeptical about the President’s proposal. It is not clear to me that we know what the result of this attack would be, or whether it will be effective," Democratic House intelligence committee member Jim Himes told Buzzfeed. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the head of the House GOP Conference, said lawmakers were "becoming more informed and they’re asking questions and that’s all part of the decision," after the meeting. She still doesn't know how she'll vote, though. "It’s a difficult decision," she told the Washington Post. "I have a lot of concerns. I’m skeptical, but I’m going to listen and continue to learn."
Even some lobby groups on the left are split over what to do next. Germany won't have any part in an attack. But the Arab League is urging an international response from the U.N. or elsewhere as quickly as possible. "Any opposition to any international action would only encourage Damascus to move forward with committing its crimes and using all weapons of mass destruction," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Sunday.
The President is now working the phones with Vice President Joe Biden and his Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough -- "flooding the zone," according to Fox News' Ed Henry -- before Obama leaves for the G-20 summit in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.