President Obama's credibility is on the line this week in Washington, as Congress takes up his proposal to strike the regime of Bashar al-Assad in response to his alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people.
So far, 18 senators have cast votes on Obama's proposed military action against Syria. The tally in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was 10 in favor, seven opposed and one voting "present." According to the Washington Post, "The committee vote was close — but not along party lines — a good reminder that military engagement in Syria has scrambled the two parties and two chambers like few other issues in recent years."
The resolution approved by the committee sets a three-month time limit. It bans the use of ground troops. The full Senate could vote on the resolution this week.
In a House committee hearing last week, representatives displayed what the Christian Science Monitor called a "rising isolationism." "As one member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee after the other related home-district opposition to any Syria involvement or brandished stacks of printed-out e-mails from constituents demanding a 'no' vote on the use of force over Bashar al-Assad's apparent use of chemical weapons, prospects for Mr. Obama's authorization remained up in the air at best," the Monitor reported.
The Daily Circuit discusses the vote and the politics around it on Capitol Hill.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SYRIA DEBATE:
How Minnesota's members of Congress plan to vote on Syria
MPR's Brett Neely counts the noses of the Minnesota delegation in Congress.
Balance of War Powers: The U.S. President and Congress
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress and the president different responsibilities over military action, but there have long been disputes about where one's war powers begin and the other's ends. The Obama administration's decision in August 2013 to seek congressional authorization for a military strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons has stirred new debate about the constitutional need for a president to request such approval and whether President Obama is creating a precedent that will hamstring future commanders in chief. (Council on Foreign Relations)
What If Congress Votes 'No' On Syria?
A loss in Congress for Obama on the Syria authorization could also damage what's left of the president's power to achieve his second-term domestic agenda. Obama still must negotiate with Congress on fiscal matters like raising the debt ceiling and funding the government next year. An immigration overhaul remains a much desired goal, too. (Frank James, NPR)