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The U.S. Congress And Syria

Congress and Syria.  What’s it going to do?  We look at the complicated battle lines—political, strategic, and moral—on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama, flanked by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks to media in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, before a meeting with members of Congress to discuss the situation in Syria. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama, flanked by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks to media in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, before a meeting with members of Congress to discuss the situation in Syria. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The White House says it wants to unleash the US military on Syria after chemical attacks pinned on the Assad regime but it does not, said Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, want to “go to war.”  Now Congress has to decide.

The President has asked for authorization.  The shadows of Iraq and Afghanistan loom very large.  A decade of death and frustration have scrambled hawk and dove lines on Capitol Hill.  Congress has learned that votes are quick but military involvement, whatever the opening expectation, can be very long.

This hour, On Point:  Congress, and the vote on Syrian intervention.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ross Baker, congressional historian and political science professor at Rutgers University.

Thomas Mann, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. Author of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.”

Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for the New York Times. (@jmartnyt)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Obama steps up campaign for Congress’ support for Syria strikes — “The White House appealed Monday to two of Congress’ most powerful interests — protecting Israel and challenging Iran — as President Obama and his aides scrambled to win lawmakers’ support for a resolution authorizing punitive missile strikes in Syria.”

CNN: How will they vote? Congress considers Syria resolution — “Although Congress doesn’t officially reconvene for another week, members are publicly and privately considering how they will vote on President Obama’s call for military action in Syria. Many members remained undecided on Monday as they returned to Washington for briefings. CNN is tracking their stated views as the breakdown of a vote emerges.”

CBS News: Putin plans Russian delegation to sway Congress on Syria strike — “President Vladimir Putin hopes to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the United States to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress, the Interfax news agency reported Monday. Russian legislators Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin proposed that to Putin, saying polls have shown little support among Americans for armed intervention in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack.”

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