The Obama Administration has finally gone on record to say while the President believes he has the authority to attack Syria with or without Congressional approval, he does not intend to launch such an attack without the backing of lawmakers:
President Barack Obama isn’t likely to launch a military strike on Syria if Congress votes against doing so, a top national security official said Friday.
During an interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said “the president of course has the authority” to take limited military action in Syria with or without the approval of lawmakers, but “it’s neither his desire nor intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.”
I would prefer a Shermanesque “He won’t,” but this is better than nothing. So Congress, vote this thing down and let’s all get on with our lives.
Several Republican leadership aides, who are counting votes but not encouraging a position, say that there are roughly one to two dozen “yes” votes in favor of military action at this time. The stunningly low number is expected to grow a bit.
But senior aides say they expect, at most, between 50 and 60 Republicans to vote with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who support the president’s plan to bomb Syria to stop Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons on his people. That would amount to less than one-third of the House Republican Conference.
That would mean the vast majority of the 200 House Democrats will need to vote with Obama for the resolution to pass. But Democrats privately say that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) can only round up between 115 and 130 “yes” votes.
Indeed, the Huffington Post Vote Tracker already has the measure going down to defeat given the statements of No and Leaning No from Congressmen and women they have spoken to.
Here is some polling on the proposed bombing of Syria:
Ipsos/Reuters: Against Intervention 56, For Intervention 19
When the question is prefaced with the fact that the Syria government used Sarin gas against its people: Against intervention 48; For Intervention 29.
ABC/Washington Post: Oppose launching missile strikes 59, Support launching missile strikes 36.
Pew: Oppose airstrikes 48, Favor airstrikes 29
NBC News: Should not take military action 50, Should take military action 42