Senators would begin reworking a resolution authorizing military action, Reid said, but added that “we have to make sure that the credible threat of military action remains. It’s important to understand that the only reason Russia is seeking an alternative to military action is that the president of the United States has made it very clear that we will act if we must.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a key GOP supporter of military action against Syria, agreed with Reid, saying: “I think it’s very important for us to keep on the table to ability to use military force, but I think at the same time it’s probably good for us just to take a pause. I see no reason for us to have [our] hair on fire.”
But several lawmakers remained skeptical of overtures from the Russian government made on a day packed with fast-moving developments. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a frequent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that “There is hope, but not yet trust in what the Russians are doing.”
“But I think there’s a general view, whether people are for it or against it, there’s an overwhelming view that it would be preferable if international law and the family of nations could strip Syria of the chemical weapons,” Schumer said. “And there’s a large view we should let that process play out for a little while.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who is a strong supporter of the resolution against Syria, also distanced himself from the effort to get a U.N.-backed deal that could be verified with the Syrians, suggesting that it might just be a stalling tactic.
“Clearly, diplomacy is always a better outcome than military action. But I will say that I’m somewhat skeptical of those that are involved in the diplomatic discussion today. . . . I’m skeptical of it because of the actors that are involved — simple as that,” Boehner told reporters.
The House has always been the most resistant to military intervention in Syria, and it was unclear early Tuesday whether the Russian proposal and work in the Senate on a plan would be enough to sway skeptical House lawmakers in both parties to support a new congressional resolution — especially if it leaves open the possibility of military action.
With support crumbling on Capitol Hill for a resolution authorizing military strikes on Syria, a bipartisan group of senators began coalescing around a proposal that would call on the United Nations to condemn the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against its people and order U.N. inspectors into the country to recover the weapons.