The Washington Post

White House’s McDonough: ‘Too early’ to predict Syria vote outcome

Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled the White House chief of staff's first name. It is Denis. 

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday sought to play down reports that a majority of House members were either committed to or leaning toward voting against authorizing military force in Syria.

"We have been working this now for several days while members are in their states and in their districts, so I think it’s too early to come to any conclusions," McDonough said on "Fox News Sunday" when asked about a Washington Post report that 226 House members plan or are leaning to vote against authorizing a military intervention in Syria.

McDonough immediately pivoted to a point he would repeat throughout appearances on political talks shows Sunday morning: no one disagrees with the administration's assessment of the Syrian chemical weapon attack.

"Not a person is abutting or refuting the intelligence," McDonough said. "That is to say we know what happened on August 21,” he said, referring to the alleged Syrian government's  attack on its own citizens. McDonough also urged lawmakers to watch recently released videos of Syrian citizens appearing to suffer from the use of chemical weapons.

"I hope that every member of Congress before he or she casts or decides how they’re going to cast their vote, will take a look at that, those videos," he said. "It is unbelievably horrendous."

The White House has aggressively courted lawmakers in its effort to get Congress to approve the use of military force in Syria. The president will sit down for Monday interviews with PBS, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News Channel, and will make his case to the nation on Tuesday. Administration officials estimate they have contacted 85 senators  and more than 165 House members.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



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