Would a Senate endorsement alone give President Barack Obama sufficient political backing to launch a missile strike on Syria?
With flimsy support in the House, the Senate may be the best chance Obama has to get the thumbs-up from Congress that he’s looking for — though by no means is a favorable result in the Senate a slam dunk.
The president himself refused to say what he would do if Congress split or refused to authorize the use of force against Syria.
At a Friday news conference from the G-20 summit in Russia, Obama said he did not want to “jump the gun and speculate, because right now, I’m working to get as much support as possible.”
However, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told NPR on Friday morning that the president would likely not act without Congress’ approval.
“The president, of course, has the authorization to act, but it’s neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him,” Blinken said. The adviser was not asked about a split verdict, however.
Still, Obama appears to be focusing most of his current lobbying efforts on the Senate. On Thursday, for example, he called five senators, and earlier in the week, he hosted pro-interventionist GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at the White House. Of course, the Senate is also expected to vote before the House, with a possible test vote coming as soon as Sept. 11.
But while getting the 60 votes needed to beat back a possible filibuster in the Senate seems doable, rank-and-file House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed deep skepticism about the need to retaliate for the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people. A majority of House members either have already come out against action in Syria or have indicated they are leaning against voting for a strike.
Supporters of military intervention have also been aggressively lobbying their fellow senators. Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein is among those warning of the broad foreign policy consequences of not rallying behind the president.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.