Washington, Sep 7 — President Barack Obama, who found few international backers for a punitive military strike against Syria at the Group of 20 summit, may find the going even tougher on the issue at home.
Even if the Democratic ruled Senate backs his call for military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels, he faces a wall of outright opposition or scepticism from Democrats and Republicans in the House, according to various reports.
Republican controlled House Speaker John Boehne, who backs Obama on the issue, welcomed news Friday that the president would deliver a national address Tuesday to try to sway public opinion in favour of military action. But Boehner’s spokesman signalled that the votes aren’t in the House for passing a resolution authorising force against Syria, CNN reported.
“Only a president can convince the public that military action is required. We only hope this isn’t coming too late to make the difference,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement.
Boehner’s top deputy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, also supports the president and is talking to members and urging hem to review classified materials that administration officials say bolsters their case for military action, the news channel reported,
But rank and file House Republican members have frequently ignored their leaders and the vote in favour of action is stalled in the single digits, including the support expressed by senior leadership, a CNN tally showed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted Friday that the necessary votes were in the Democratic-led chamber to pass a resolution calling for limited force.
But the House plans to wait to see if something passes the Senate before making final decisions on the language or timing of any House vote, CNN said citing multiple Republican sources.
The administration is dispatching top officials to make a final push before Obama’s speech.
A senior administration official told CNN that top officials reached out to more than 125 House members through a variety of conference calls and one-on-one conversations over the past two weeks to win over undecided members, many of them from Obama’s own party.
But the “flood the zone” White House approach hasn’t prevented a steady list of members from voicing outright opposition or criticism that the case for military action is thin, it said.