Syria Waiting Game On After Obama Opts For Congressional Vote - New York News

Syria Waiting Game On After Obama Opts For Congressional Vote

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WASHINGTON -

Top U.S. officials say evidence shows the chemical agent sarin was used during an attack near Damascus, Syria, last month.

There's an appearance of an uneasy calm in parts of Syria as the regime of Bashar al Assad has proclaimed a great victory.

President Barack Obama's decision to delay a U.S. strike and seek congressional approval was a shock throughout the region.

And it was the same in Washington, where some members of Congress cut their vacations short to listen to the administration's pitch.

Right now, lawmakers are split on taking military action against the Assad regime.

"I have grave concerns about this," Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) said. "I think the intended and unintended consequences of going to war are very serious and very grave."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, "I'm skeptical of what the objectives are, what are the national security goals, what do we hope to accomplish, what happens the day after."

Obama is said to be working the phones in a White House photo, talking to House Speaker John Boehner.

And Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows, revealing that the U.S. now has blood and hair samples from Syria that test positive for the nerve agent sarin and expressing confidence that Congress will back up the president.

"America's credibility is on the line here, and I expect the Congress of the United States to do what is right and to stand up and be counted," Kerry said.

But what if Congress doesn't go along. After all, a vote now would very possibly fail, just as a similar one did in the British parliament last week. That could provide fodder for White House critics who say the administration hasn't been decisive.

"This hesitation, delay and half measures has been a significant pattern, and it's led to a diminishment of U.S. stature in the region," said retired Gen. Jack Keane, a military analyst.

Congress is scheduled to be on recess all this week. Leaders say there is a possibility they will return early.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D-Md.) said Sunday, "I don't think many of our constituents understand the full significance of chemical and biological warfare, and that's something that the president has got to spend some time explaining the significance of that and why it is off limits with regard to 98 percent of the world."

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