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Bridget Johnson

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September 2, 2013 - 1:17 pm
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The first congressional hearing on President Obama’s request for military force authorization in Syria comes tomorrow when Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The 2:30 p.m. hearing comes nearly a week before lawmakers are supposed to be back in session from the August recess, but many are already back in town to attend administration briefings.

Tuesday’s hearing will be open, but the Foreign Relations Committee holds another hearing Wednesday that will be closed-door.

Kerry will also testify in an open hearing Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at noon.

“The president’s proposed military response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime demands thorough and deliberate congressional consideration,” said chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). “This hearing will allow for the administration to publicly make its case and explain its plans to Congress and the American people.”

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said yesterday’s classified briefing hosted by five administration officials was the first bicameral and bipartisan security briefing held since she came to Congress in 1991.

At the briefing lawmakers were shown a classified document, which they could not remove from the room, showing the chain of command demonstrating the likelihood that Assad gave the order to use sarin gas, along with other evidence including the trajectory of the chemical weapon from Assad’s territory to the rebel enclave, testimony from first responders and test results from victims that indicate sarin.

Norton also said they were told Iran and Hezbollah counseled Assad against using the chemical weapons. She added that administration officials couldn’t answer her questions about why Assad decided to use them now.

“Still troubling to me is the U.S. view that a brief strike will have a deterrent effect, presumably on the use of chemical weapons and that Assad, who has tons of chemical weapons, is unlikely to retaliate,” said Norton. “I am also concerned that the U.S. has only a slim coalition – Turkey, France and the U.S. – particularly considering that almost all nations have signed the chemical weapons treaty, including most in the Middle East.”

She added that the administration’s “broad language” in the resolution submitted to Congress on Saturday night “bothered many,” but anticipated changes to be made to the draft during committee markup.

Based on what she heard in the briefing though, Norton stressed that she expects administration pushback to any attempts to narrow the scope of the authorization too much. Officials in the briefing also reminded lawmakers that the president can go ahead without congressional authorization if he chooses to do so.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders have vowed that members will not be whipped to vote a certain way on the authorization.

Yet the veteran delegate said Obama has a long way to go to overcome not just usual partisanship but deep divides on the Syria issue within each caucus.

Norton’s office said she “believes that the president will have to count on the loyalty of Democrats to the president to bring many reluctant Democrats to authorize a strike.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Loyalty to their Dear Leader or loyalty to their country?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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I don't doubt Assad ordered the use of sarin. Why should we care? Women and children, you say.

I say we've stood by in Somalia and all over the world while despots murdered thousands. We should not only stand by in this case, we should sell popcorn.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My theory is Obama doesn't want to win the vote. That way he will have cover for is inaction.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Loyalty to their Dear Leader or loyalty to their country?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
IMHO, the "principled Conservative vote" would be to abstain (vote Present) on whatever harebrained resolution makes it's to way the House/Senate.

This issue is the poster-child for the "Present" vote in the first place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Breitbart is on fire as it posts articles which demonstrate why trusting Obama to lead an attack on Syria is stupid.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/09/02/clintons-former-syria-advisor-slams-obama-handling-of-crisis
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What about the murder of innocent women, and children in the Congo, or North Korean gulags? I would rather help them.

What's the agenda? Help the side that murders Christians, and wants a Caliphate? Aren't these the same type of moon god worshipers that run a muck in Libya now that we helped get the Col. shot in the head?

Both the Demonrats, and the RINO's do what the American people do not want. Try them all for Treason for supporting the Law of the Sea Treaty.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Does anyone have any guesses about how members of the senate and house will vote? There's gotta be a political wonk out there who has this sorted out already.

As for Obama, he might be hoping that he gets the backing of the approx. fifteen percent of republicans/conservatives who support this war. (Do it for Israel!)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do it for Israel? You have it backwards. Israel will be bombed if we attack Syria.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"and that Assad, who has tons of chemical weapons"

Where did all those weapons come from?

Russia? Iran? Somalia? Syira itself?

Or from Iraq.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is there really much difference between the brain dead politicians in Washington DC and the brain dead murderous terrorist in the Middle East? Neither have the foggest idea of honor, integrity, and loyality to the human race. The world revolves only around themselves. They all smell of death.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Truly, Obama backed himself into a corner. He drew a red line and dared Assad to cross it. Assad did it twice. Now to save face he will let Congress decide. So my conclusion is that President Obama never wanted to go to war but his advisors told him to act tough and it backfired.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agreed.

The chameleon Obama is nothing but a dithering bulls**t artist who now is simply covering his a$$ by, oh!, my!, now getting Congress in on the action to blur his accountability when the inevitable "unforseen circumstances" get very, very complicated to America's distinct disadvantage. Obama and claque are simply in strategic waters well, well over their "affirmatively actioned" heads.

[That by itself, ought to be studied as a lesson in the folly of "affirmative action" into higher education and government....but that's another subject, as we've brought this mess upon ourselves.]

Obama and this "administration" claque simply have no business being in Office; what further evidence do we need that will not further open up our America to even more Muslim subversion and infiltration?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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