Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria: Where We Stand Now

This week, we've been discussing the tough decision that Congress must make on Syria. Not only are there many questions on whether the US should take any military action in Syria, but now we're also seeing questions arise on how broad that action should be (should it be approved). And this is further complicating White House efforts to build support for a military strike, since some Members of Congress only feel comfortable backing a very limited air strike while others only feel comfortable backing a much much broader military campaign.

As it stands now, the fate of authorization for military force (AUMF) is still very much up in the air on Capitol Hill. This certainly holds true for the Nevada Delegation. According to TPM and Think Progress, Senator Dean Heller (R) and Reps. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) & Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) are all still undecided. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) still hasn't declared a position, and only Senator Harry Reid (D) is a firm Yea. The only recent movement has come from Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson), who's increasingly sounding like he’s preparing to vote Nay.

This is coming on the heels of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voting 10-7 (with one voting present) in favor of a bill crafted by Senators Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) to only authorize 60-90 days of air strikes. While Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) succeeded in adding amendments in support of ultimate regime change in Syria, they're non-binding and don't commit any troops on the ground.

While AUMF passage looks like a fairly strong possibility in the Senate, the House is still a very different story. There, progressive and conservative groups may be close to securing an anti-war majority. But even there, it's far from settled, as there are still enough undecideds to tip the scales in favor of passage.

Meanwhile, President Obama is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 Summit. There, he's dealing with a skeptical international audience... And Russian President Vladimir Putin, who's as dead-set against military intervention in Syria as ever. Can President Obama win over more international allies?

That may ultimately determine Congress' decision on Syria. Hardly anyone wants the US to go it alone. And President Obama risks violating international and US law if he orders military strikes without Congressional approval. So what happens in the coming days will be critical.

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