Obama to take to airwaves over Syria
Sep 8, 2013 / 10:30 am
Congressional lawmakers are back at work Monday grappling with the momentous decision on whether to OK a military strike on Syria as U.S. President Barack Obama continues his efforts to sway a deeply skeptical American public and many of their equally wary elected officials.
Obama will sit down for interviews with several major news organizations on Monday to make a forceful case in favour of punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with military force for allegedly gassing his own people last month, killing hundreds. The president then addresses the nation in a live televised speech on Tuesday night.
Throughout the weekend, Obama has been personally calling undecided lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to make the case for military action.
He's argued that the U.S. has a moral imperative to respond to Syria as well as a national security responsibility, but hasn't said what his course of action will be if Congress doesn't authorize an attack.
Obama's vice-president, Joe Biden, was also hosting a dinner on Sunday night for as many as a dozen Republican senators, including John McCain, a hawk on Syria.
Yet opposition to a Syrian strike shows no signs of abating, despite the full-court press.
So-called whip counts by various news organizations suggest as many as 229 members in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are now in the "no" camp, while as few as 44 are likely to opt for a strike in a vote scheduled for Sept. 16. While he might convince the Senate to give him the green light in a vote on Wednesday, Obama needs at least 217 votes in the House to secure his resolution.
Polls also suggest the majority of Americans are opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough insisted Sunday it's premature to predict whether the Syria resolution would win approval from Congress. Obama made his surprise decision to seek congressional authorization following a walk with McDonough on the White House grounds 10 days ago.
"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," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
The Syrian president undoubtedly "used chemical weapons against his people," McDonough charged, although Assad predictably denied being behind the attacks in an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday.
"So the question now for Congress to resolve this week is: Are there consequences for a dictator who would have used those weapons to gas to death hundreds of children?"
One key liberal Democratic congressman, however, even urged Obama on Sunday to withdraw his request for congressional authoritization for a Syrian strike.
"I don't think the support is there," Jim McGovern, a congressman from Massachussetts, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"Look, I'm a big supporter of Barack Obama, but sometimes friends can disagree. This is not a question of party loyalty, it's a question of what is right to do."
Read more World News
- Thai premier says she will not resign
- Mob violence escalates in Africa
- Riot police deployed to Ukranian protest
- Kim Jong Un removes uncle from power
- US and Pakistan - the special meeting
- 100,000 march in Bangkok
- Storm blankets NFL fields with snow
- Uncle ousted for 'anti-state' acts
- Thousands attend Paul Walker memorial
- Dead whales found-part of stranded pod
- Israeli president willing to meet Iran's
- Presidents & royalty at Mandela service
(Click for RSS instructions.)