September 6, 2013

Survey: House shows opposition to Syria attack

Still, the situation is very fluid. Nearly half of the 433-member House and a third of the 100-member Senate remain undecided.

The Associated Press

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Obama is not alone in his effort to drum up support.

Pro-Israel groups, including the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, all have released public statements and made private calls urging lawmakers to vote for military action in Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the way the world reacts to chemical weapons use in Syria has implications for how it will handle Iran's nuclear program, putting one of Congress' favorite foreign leaders firmly in the "yes" camp.

Still, many of the most ardent supporters of the Jewish state in Congress aren't yet convinced. AIPAC is bringing some 250 activists to Washington next week to push for approval.

Few Republicans or Democrats contest the argument from U.S. intelligence that Assad carried out a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21.

Lawmakers' main doubts are: Will the limited strikes proposed deter a further chemical weapons attack? Will they inadvertently help al-Qaida-linked rebel units? And how will the Obama administration respond if Syria or Iran retaliates, without getting further involved?

"I think every member of Congress' perception is colored by what happened in Iraq," said Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who is seeking a Senate seat in 2014 and is leaning against authorizing force. "If Iran responds to our sending cruise missiles into Syria by launching an attack into Israel, and then Israel retaliates, and Hezbollah retaliates against Israel, I have a hard time seeing how the United States avoids getting drawn into a broader regional conflict."

At several town hall meetings with lawmakers across the country this week, people have raised their voices against military involvement.

In Phoenix on Thursday night, Sen. John McCain, one of the strongest advocates of U.S. action, faced intense criticism from constituents.


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