Photo by the Associated Press
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delayed a
procedural vote on military action in Syria Monday as a series of
senators expressed their opposition.
The Senate was scheduled to
vote Wednesday on a resolution that would authorize President Obama to
launch military strikes against Syria, but Reid announced late Monday
that he would delay that vote.
Reid said he believes he has the 60
votes necessary to limit debate and pass the resolution, but said he
did not think the Senate should be in a rush.
efforts to sway Congress to support military airstrikes seemed suffered
several setbacks Monday, raising serious doubts that the president
will be able to muster the necessary support in either the House or
Three additional senators, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Roy
Blunt, R-Mo., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced their opposition
Monday, eliminating three potentially critical votes for the
The administration did receive one new vote in
support from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who chairs the powerful
Senate Appropriations Committee. Just 24 senators are publicly in favor
of President Obama's plan.
The GOP-led House is not likely to take up a resolution unless the Senate can pass it first.
is a Democrat from a conservative state, but she does not face
re-election until 2018. She joins other Red State Democrats Mark Pryor
of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia in opposition to the
resolution. Manchin announced his no vote last week, and Pryor over the
Additional Red State Democrats, including Mary Landrieu
of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, remain undecided. Both senators
are up for re-election next year in states that Obama lost in the past
two presidential elections.
"I still believe we need to have an
open and honest discussion on the Senate floor about the potential use
of force in Syria," Heitkamp said, noting she participated in classified
briefings through last week, "However, after all these meetings, I
still have serious concerns. I cannot support the current Senate
resolution to authorize force at this time."
Alexander was a
potential ally because he has a history of working across the aisle and
the resolution is supported by his home state colleague, Sen. Bob
Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
by top administration officials and a weekend conversation with
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were not enough to sway Alexander. "I
see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting
off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men
and women in another long-term Middle East conflict," he said.
Blunt is a member of the Senate GOP leadership team which often votes
in lockstep on key issues, raising the possibility that the Senate GOP
leadership team could oppose the resolution. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,
the Senate's second-ranking Republican, has not made a final decision
but is leaning against voting for the resolution, while Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not indicated how he will vote.
their collective opposition underscored the uphill battle Obama faces
on Capitol Hill to rally around his foreign policy agenda on Syria. The
president will visit privately with Senate Democrats on Tuesday before
his prime-time television address. He will also meet privately with
Reid, D-Nev., made an emotional plea on the
Senate floor Monday morning in support of the resolution. "Today, many
Americans say that these atrocities are none of our business, that
they're not our concern. I disagree. Any time the powerful turn such
weapons of terror and destruction against the powerless, it is our
business," he said.
Susan Davis, USA TODAY