President Obama discusses the crisis Syria with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office last week. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.
There appeared to be widespread agreement among lawmakers Sunday that the U.S. must respond to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, but there was little consensus on the steps that should be taken.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., warned Sunday that there is no support for sending U.S. forces into Syria.
“The American people are weary. They don’t want boots on the ground. I don’t want boots on the ground,” McCain said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria.”
“That would turn the people against us,” McCain added.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., concurred with McCain’s assessment. “We don’t need to put boots on the ground, but we need to enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria, to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this,” Chambliss said. “The whole world is watching.”
In an interview with Foreign Policy last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for sending U.S. troops into Syria to secure chemical weapons supplies.
On Sunday, Graham warned that inaction by the U.S. could result in harmful consequences.
“If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action towards Syria, kind of not knowing what we’re going to do next, we’re going to have war with Iran, because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need to get involved.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said all options should remain on the table — including the use of U.S. troops — in determining how to approach the situation in Syria. “I don’t think you want to ever rule it out,” McCaskill said on CBS. “Obviously, we don’t want to do that unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
A survey released last month by the Pew Research Center found little public support for intervening in Syria, with 64 percent of respondents saying the U.S. does not have a responsibility to do something about the conflict. But a Washington Post-ABC News poll from December showed that if chemical weapons were used, 63 percent of Americans would back some form of military involvement.
The White House, well aware there is little public appetite for engaging in another war, is approaching the news with caution.
President Barack Obama told reporters Friday the U.S. is working with the United Nation and countries in the region to swiftly figure out what is happening. He said the “preliminary” intelligence assessments shared with Congress last week leave U.S. officials with “varying degrees of confidence about the actual use,” and that “there are a range of questions around how, when, where these weapons may have been used.” This is just the beginning of a “very vigorous investigation,” he said.
“I’ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues,” Mr. Obama said.
“So this is not an on or off switch. This is an ongoing challenge that all of us have to be concerned about.”
The president said what’s happened in Syria is “horrific,” and added, “To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations, that is going to be a game changer.”
“We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately,” the president said. “But I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations. So this is going to be something that we’ll be paying a lot of attention to — trying to confirm, and mobilize the international community around those issues.”
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said “some action needs to be taken” on Syria, and urged the president to stick to the red line he previously laid down.
“It can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line,” Rogers said on ABC’s “This Week.”
On Friday’s NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown fielded a debate on different approaches between Kori Schake, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and David Cortright, director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
The debate over the U.S. approach to Syria could subside this week with Congress on recess, but calls for intervention are likely to return if and when the use of chemical weapons is confirmed. In the meantime, expect to keeping hearing words such as “careful” and “deliberate” coming from the White House.
The Mississippi martial arts instructor arrested Saturday on charges of sending ricin-laced letters to the president and a U.S. senator is expected to appear in federal court on Monday.
Mr. Obama will nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to lead the Department of Transportation.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is recovering from surgery after a bicycle accident.
Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad has five things to know about Tuesday’s primaries for the Senate special election in Massachusetts.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday that he is still trying to forge an agreement to expand background checks for gun sales.
The background checks amendment that GOP Sen. Pat Toomey co-sponsored may not have passed, but it did boost his approval numbers in Pennsylvania to the highest they’ve ever been, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
Jonathan Weisman writes for The New York Times that the passage of an Internet sales tax bill next month could signal waning power for Grover Norquist and his anti-tax friends.
A major Republican donor is investing in immigration reform.
It hasn’t worked wonders, but The Washington Post suggests Mr. Obama’s charm offensive may be his last, best hope.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found GOP Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett trailing potential Democratic challengers in his 2014 re-election bid. Former Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak tops Corbett, 48 percent to 34 percent, in a hypothetical matchup, while Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz leads Corbett, 47 percent to 34 percent. Sestak and Schwartz are tied at 15 percent in the Democratic primary, with 59 percent of respondents undecided.
Ahead of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District special election, Summerville Patch is hosting and live-streaming the only debate between former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
An aide to Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley is considering a Senate bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat.
Politico’s Jonathan Martin has a long piece exploring the political color barrier in the age of Obama.
Every month, the CIA drops off bags full of cash at the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, much of which pays off warlords with ties to the drug trade and the Taliban, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Mitt Romney doesn’t hold a grudge. The failed Republican presidential candidate has invited New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie to speak at his “Experts and Enthusiasts” conference in Utah. Romney has made the maximum contribution to Christie’s re-election campaign, and apparently, the two text and email regularly.
Dining chez Atlantic publisher David Bradley and “working with the ubiquitous Beltway fixer Bob Barnett,” David Patreaus is making a comeback. But to what extent will he raise his public profile?
Olivier Knox tells Yahoo News readers what an iPod shuffle, a Hermes golf bag and a sculpture of Alexander the Great’s horse have in common.
So, how is prison food? Yelp can tell you.
Haven’t been to the Jefferson City J. Crew lately, have you, state Sen. Ryan McKenna? In a handwritten amendment, the Missouri Republican suggested prohibiting Missourians over the age of eight from wearing seersucker suits.
- Click a few dots for this Harvard experiment and see if it can guess your age.
- Mark Shields and David Brooks agreed that furloughs for FAA workers should not have been exonerated from the sequester, with David calling the bill “stupidity on stilts” and Mark accusing the Obama administration of having “caved like a lawn chair.” Watch their conversation with Judy Woodruff here or below.
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- And the guys talked with Hari Sreenivasan about the NFL draft and former President George W. Bush’s legacy in the Doubleheader.
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- Christina talked with Judy about being in the press pool the day President Ronald Reagan was shot and how Jim and Sarah Brady became gun control advocates.
Wife accidentally kills husband during gun lesson (at home with kids asleep at 3:30 am after a night of drinking) nbcnews.to/Zdmf2Y
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) April 29, 2013
Five Presidents. twitter.com/whitehouse/sta…
— The White House (@whitehouse) April 26, 2013
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 26, 2013
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 25, 2013
They say there is no crying in baseball. And then sometimes, one hits you in the forehead. @ Randall… instagram.com/p/YkaWXoIk2v/
— Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) April 26, 2013
Katelyn Polantz and politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
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