Following up on a long, over 3 hour Senate committee hearing on Syria, National Security Adviser Susan Rice believes the administration will get the congressional authorization it's seeking over a limited Syrian intervention. Speaking to NBC Nightly News, Rice, who'd been involved in crafting the administration's policy towards Syria, said she was "quite confident" of the administration's chances in Congress, adding, "We have no expectation of losing the vote." Rice continued:
"We think that the Congress of the United States and the American people understand that we have compelling national interests at stake here."
Rice's answer — at what's apparently her first television appearance since taking her current post — also bypasses a question that's come up again and again for the administration: what happens if Congress fails to pass something giving the administration authorization to use force? Given that President Obama has made it clear that he believes he has the authority to go ahead and authorize a strike without Congress's backing, he could just go ahead with what he's decided already, But he, and his administration, have stopped short of addressing what would come next either way. That question came up at the hearing today, as well. Kerry, like Rice, refused to provide a next step.
And while even anti-Syrian action leader Senator Rand Paul thinks the administration will get authorization from Congress, the case is far from sold to the American public. Just 6 out of 10 Americans support a solo military intervention by the U.S. in Syria, for instance, even after a week of repeated pitches from the administration, including President Obama himself. On the other hand, the president is getting some key support from the leadership of both parties.
Earlier today, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican leader Rep. Eric Cantor said they'd support the president's plan for military intervention. This might bode well for the administration's chances to pass an authorization through the Republican-led House, though the GOP's House leadership doesn't have a perfect record of wrangling their own party — and the third in command, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, hasn't said he's on board with the plan. Neither has Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is drafting a resolution to give Obama authority for a Syria strike. They'll probably debate the language of that draft bill tomorrow afternoon.