Rand Paul, James Inhofe, Peter King skeptical Congress will approve Syria strike

September 1, 2013

This post has been updated.

A trio of congressional Republicans on Sunday expressed varying degrees of skepticism that Congress will approve using military force against the Syrian government, a day after President Obama said he will seek the approval of lawmakers before acting.

"I don't think they will [approve]," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." Inhofe added that the bigger picture in Syria is much more complicated than the one the Obama administration has painted.

"It may sound real easy when people like Secretary Kerry say this is going to be quick and we're going to go in and we're going to send a few cruise missiles and wash our hands and go home. It doesn't work that way. This could be a war in the Middle East. It's serious," said Inhofe, who opposes military action.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States has obtained fresh evidence that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly attack in Syria. On Saturday, President Obama said the U.S. should take military action against the Syrian government, but he will first seek approval from Congress.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who opposes military involvement, said on NBC News's "Meet The Press" that he thinks the odds are "50/50" that the House will approve force, but that the Senate will "rubber stamp what [Obama] wants."

Paul added: "I think all of the bad things you can imagine are more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war."

Even Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who supports taking military action, was skeptical.

"Right now, if the vote [in the House] was today, it would probably be a no vote," King said on "Fox News Sunday." "I am hoping by the time next week comes around ... that he will be able to get a majority of the House."

King criticized Obama for delaying the decision and not calling Congress back into session immediately.

"It is going to be difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there is going to be time during the next nine days for opposition to build up to it," he said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) took a different view.

I think at the end of the day, Congress will rise to the occasion,” Rogers said on CNN’s “State of The Union.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) argued that Obama made the right call to ask for the support of Congress, citing the many members who warned him not to move ahead without consulting them first.

"His response was in recognition of many Republicans and Democrats who were calling for congressional participation," Reed said on Fox News.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on "Meet The Press" that he thinks "Congress passes the authorization." But, Murphy said, he would enter "this debate as a skeptic" about whether the U.S. should launch a military strike.

Appearing on CBS News's "Face The Nation," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he is not sure if Congress will approve military force. For his part, McCain said he wants to see a "plan and a strategy that this will achieve some goals that we need to achieve."

On the same program, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) agreed that Obama needs to make a convincing case for action. "The president has an obligation to make his case to the Congress, but he also has an obligation to make this case to the American people. My constituents are war weary. They don't wanna see us get involved in this," he said.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said on "Face The Nation" that he is "confident that Congress will rally behind the important principle that the use of chemical weapons violates an international norm that's been in place since the 1920s is not acceptable, and that we need to engage in action, even military action, with international allies, to stop it."

 

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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