December 8, 2013
Obama wins support from leaders in Congress for Syria military strike
President Barack Obama urged quick congressional action authorizing the use of military force against Syria and won the support of leaders from both parties in the House of Representatives for limited strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Obama told congressional leaders at a White House meeting that the United States has a broad plan to help the rebels defeat Syrian government forces.
After the meeting, the top two Republicans in the House - Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor - and top Democrat Nancy Pelosi said they would back military action against Syria.
"Only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated," Boehner told reporters. "I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action."
The support came as Obama ramped up his lobbying effort for military action in response to what Washington says was a sarin gas attack by the Syrian government that killed more than 1,400 people, hundreds of them children, near Damascus on August 21.
"What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad's capabilities," Obama told reporters. "At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition."
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will present the administration's case for US military action at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Support from the leaders of both parties could help Obama make his case, but many US lawmakers, including Obama's fellow Democrats, have said they are concerned the president's draft resolution could be too open-ended and allow possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries.
The resolution authorizes Obama to use military force as necessary to "prevent or deter the use or proliferation" to or from Syria of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons. Some Democrats said the language should be more limiting to ensure it does not authorize the use of ground troops.