ST. PETERSBURG – Even as he makes his case on Syria to world leaders gathered at an international summit here, President Obama plans to call lawmakers back in Washington to urge them to vote to authorize a military strike in Syria.
Obama will be doing outreach to key lawmakers on Capitol Hill during his two-day visit to Russia for the Group of 20 summit, deputy national security adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes told reporters here Thursday.On Wednesday, during his visit to Sweden, Obama made five calls to a bipartisan group of senators as part of the administration-wide effort to lobby lawmakers on Syria, Rhodes said.
Rhodes said the White House is “very pleased with the trend lines” they are seeing in Washington, even though strong opposition to a strike is building, in the House particularly.
But with a vote not scheduled for several more days, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not started reaching out to individual lawmakers because she believes that colleagues need to be given the time to review hundreds of classified documents and other materials available for review in secure rooms at the U.S. Capitol, aides said.
“We’re not in the vote-counting phase. Members are still being briefed, we’re in an education phase,” said one senior aide.
At least 127 House Democrats participated in a call with senior Obama administration officials Monday, and others have likely reviewed materials in person in Washington, aides said, cautioning that it would be impossible to determine exactly who has reviewed the available information.
Aides said they remained optimistic about potential support for a resolution, citing the comments of Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the fourth-ranking House Democrat, who told MSNBC on Thursday that he’s generally supportive of military action.
In the Senate, senior Democratic aides declined to discuss specific consultations with the White House on Thursday, but said that they remain in close consultation with the administration over who Obama should be calling.
“They know who they need to call,” said one Senate aide, who asked not to be identified in order to speak candidly about ongoing discussions.
In a briefing with reporters Thursday, Rhodes said he hopes lawmakers consider the broader implications for America’s role as a world power.
“The United States for decades has played the role of undergirding the global security architecture and enforcing international norms, and we do not want to send the message that the United States is getting out of that business in any way,” Rhodes said.
In an earlier briefing Thursday aboard Air Force One, Rhodes told reporters that Obama has been watching the debate on Capitol Hill “closely.” He added that Wednesday’s vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was “another important step forward in terms of seeing bipartisan support for an authorization to use military force.”
This post has been updated.