Tags: Syria | syria | obama | closest | allies

Defeat on Syria Likely to Come From Obama's Closest Allies

Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 12:51 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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President Barack Obama is losing support from many liberal Democrats in the push for military action in Syria, which may mean the president's most embarrassing setback will come at the hands of his closest allies.

Some on the left of the party, like Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, cite opposition from their constituents while others such as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri highlight problems with the Iraq war as the reason for hesitating to vote yea on Obama's Syrian strike resolution, the Wall Street Journal reports

"I am not voting my party. I am not voting my president. I am voting my country," McDermott told the Journal, saying that he received numerous communications from voters in his district about the issue.

The Progressive Political Change Committee gathered votes from 57,000 of its 1 million members and determined 73 percent are against the U.S. taking military action in Syria. In a letter to Congressional Democrats, the liberal political-action group put as its subject, "Survey: Your base opposes bombing Syria."

More specific questions on the survey found 50 percent said "no military action in Syria, period;" 36 percent said only if the U.S. were part of an international coalition; and 14 percent said, "I favor unilateral U.S. military action in Syria, if need be. We need to act now."

Losing just 40 Democrat votes in the House, and relying on how some unknown Republican votes may fall, could put Obama’s Syrian resolution in jeopardy, the Journal said. The White House is continuing its push for approval, making conference calls and talking with lawmakers to discuss concerns about the strike.

As liberal Democrats question their votes, some Republicans are still up in the air, even as the party's House leaders, Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor push for action in Syria.

"I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria. While the authorizing language will likely change, the underlying reality will not," Cantor said this week.

"America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States."

A mini-view into the party breakdowns that are occurring over this contentious issue occurred when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to approve military action in Syria, USA Today said. The 10-7 vote in favor came down as seven Democrats and three Republicans for the measure, and five Republicans and two Democrats against. One Democrat, Ed Markey of Massachusetts voted "present" instead of choosing a side.

The resolution limits the time frame for military action to 60 or 90 days, keeps the action within Syrian borders and prevents U.S. military troops from going on Syrian soil.

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