TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Momentum for Syria strike builds

AFP/Getty Images
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel answer questions on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama gained ground on Tuesday in his drive for congressional backing of a military strike against Syria, winning critical support from House Speaker John Boehner while key Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed to back a no-combat-troops-on-the-ground action in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Officials said the emerging Senate measure would receive a vote on Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Approval is likely.

“You're probably going to win” Congress' backing, Rand Paul of Kentucky, a conservative senator and likely opponent of the measure, conceded in a late-afternoon exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry.

The leader of House Republicans, Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House and said the United States has “enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it's necessary.”

Boehner spoke as lawmakers in both parties called for changes to the president's requested legislation, insisting it be rewritten to restrict the type and duration of any military action.

In the Senate, the compromise was the work of Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., among others. They are the chairman and senior Republican, respectively, on the Foreign Relations Committee, which held a lengthy hearing during the day on Obama's request for congressional legislation in support of the military reprisal he wants.

The measure would set a time limit of 60 days and says the president could extend that for 30 days unless Congress has a vote of disapproval.

The measure also bars the use of U.S. ground troops for “combat operations.”

Kerry, testifying before the committee, signaled earlier that the troop restriction was acceptable to the administration. “There's no problem in our having the language that has zero capacity for American troops on the ground,” he said.

“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” Kerry said in a strongly worded opening statement. He added, “This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.”

Obama said earlier in the day he was open to revisions in the relatively broad request the White House made during the weekend. He expressed confidence Congress would respond to his call for support and said Assad's action “poses a serious national security threat to the United States and to the region.”

The administration says 1,429 died from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb. Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower, and Assad's government blames the episode on rebels who have been seeking to overthrow his government in a civil war that began over two years ago. A United Nations inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report.

The president met top lawmakers at the White House before embarking on an overseas trip to Sweden and Russia, leaving the principal lobbying at home for the next few days to Vice President Biden and other members of his administration.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Drug crime reclassification to help ex-cons get vote rights
  2. First date in New Jersey ends with him pilfering her TV and Yorkshire terrier
  3. Fox fires exec who used email to plan aid
  4. Automaker GM’s wait on Saturn Ion safety recall took years
  5. Ohio couple married for 70 years dies just 15 hours apart
  6. Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
  7. Colorado deaths stoke marijuana worries
  8. Vermont Senate OKs GMO labels as industry insists genetically modified crops are safe
  9. Grandmother left vengeful note in boys’ slayings, then committed suicide, police say
  10. Records exonerate ‘X-Men’ director, attorney says
  11. SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.