Obama's Syria plan runs into bi-partisan opposition
A strange mix of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have joined forces in the House to oppose the president's plan to battle ISIS in Syria.
The opponents of Obama’s Syria plan do not appear to have the support needed to derail the legislation, but the amount of opposition from Republicans and Democrats has startled both the White House and congressional leaders. And that vocal and passionate opposition to Obama’s strategy could rob the president of a big vote count — dampening a political victory critical for his standing in the global community.
Opponents of the Obama plan include members of the House and Senate intelligence committees like Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a former lawyer in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, who told GOP leaders he would vote “no” because Congress is being suckered into a losing strategy
There’s Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a likely future member of his party’s leadership who says he’s “leaning no” because there are too many questions about Obama’s strategy. White House officials have tried to answer those questions by spending time with Himes on the phone.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) thinks the Obama strategy doesn’t go far enough. So does Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), an Army veteran, who said in an interview he is “wondering if this plan is robust enough to actually do the mission.”
“Does the plan fit the threat?” Womack said. “That’s my concern.”
Leaders in both parties say they believe the House will approve the Syria proposal when it comes up for a vote Wednesday. Democrats will reluctantly rally behind the commander in chief. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could prove critical for wary Democrats, and late on Tuesday afternoon, she made an argument for why doves should support Obama’s efforts. In a closed meeting, Pelosi said that Bush misled Americans when he was president and that war is not the answer, but she added that she would vote for the amendment because it does not authorize a full-blown conflict. Similarly, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, said he’s “leery,” but would support the president, and he’s lobbying his fellow Democrats to do the same. One senior aide said White House briefings have been profoundly unhelpful for Democrats and have even turned supporters into opponents.
The bill will be an amendment to the continuing resolution that will fund the government through December 11. While the amendment will pass, there may be as many as 70 "no" votes against it. The president is paying for ignoring Congress all these years, as well as the fact that no one trusts his judgment. Most members can't see how his strategy can possibly work. Some don't like the idea of assisting President Assad of Syria in fighting ISIS rebels - even though it would be indirect support. There is always the possibility that Assad will fight us as well, dragging us into a ruinous civil war.
I find it incredible that White House briefings for Democrats have turned some supporters into opponents of the measure. That bespeaks a level of incompetence rarely acknowledged in official Washington. Whatever the outcome of the vote, it's clear that many members - even those who support the president's strategy - are worried about it and are reluctantly going along for the sake of national unity.