What if President Obama wins Syria vote in the Senate -- but LOSES in the House?
If I had to predict the outcome right now, the United States Senate will vote to support President Obama's proposed military intervention in Syria (albeit with constraining language), but the U.S. House of Representatives will vote down this President.
Part of it will be House Republicans' animus to almost anything this President proposes or does, and the realization that a no vote could cripple this President on domestic issues too. Part of it will be the strains of non-interventionism and isolationism permeating a new generation of G.O.P. House members. But part of it will also be the absymal record for recent U.S. military interventions, hardly ever achieving their ends, but usually exacting a great human and financial toll. Plus, the chances of a protracted engagement and a wider regional war. Anti-war or war-fatigued Democratic members of Congress are part of the equation too.
I interviewed Delaware's lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives - Congressman John Carney (D-DE). He insisted he's still genuinely undecided. He acknowledges the pushback from constituents:
"I had a meeting this morning at a worksite, about 40 or 50 employees there, and we had a long conversation. I'm trying to get feedback from the people I represent. I asked for a show of hands: How many people think that we ought to have a military attack against Syria, and very few hands went up." (Carney noted most people had seen the video footage of victims suffering from the gas attack, but remained unpersuaded.)
I then asked Carney what he would do if he were personally persuaded by the Administration's arguments and evidence, yet, if by all indications (town meetings, input to his Congressional office, calls on talk radio), it was clear a majority of Delawareans STILL opposed intervention. What would he do?
"At the end of the day, Allan, you have to do what you think is right for the country. And I think that's what I'm focused on. Not just right for the country in the short-term, but in the long-term."
My follow-up: "So do I interpret in your answer that you would override what your constituents think?"
"Yeah, I think you have to do the right thing, ultimately. It's pretty clear right now. That's why I support the President's decision - it's a harder way to go -- but his decision to get authorization from Congress."
I asked Carney for his take on the evidence:
"I've seen some of the information, or it's been explained to us in a classified briefing. I would say that the information is compelling and pretty convincing, if not beyond a reasonable doubt..."
You can hear my telephone interview with U.S. Representative John Carney (D-DE)...
From the above, one can surmise Representative Carney will vote in the end to support the President's request for U.S. military intervention, as will Delaware's two U.S. senators, no matter if their offices are jammed with constituents' telephone calls, e-mail, and old-fashioned postal mail to the contrary.
No matter that this intervention would appear to violate every single tenet of the Powell Doctrine governing U.S. military interventions. No matter the opposition of the U.N. Secretary-General, the Pope, and most of the Arab world.
See this article in NATIONAL JOURNAL about President Obama's so far slim chances in the House of Representatives...
Short answer: the resolution does not pass. Just like the Ryan budget does not pass, or the defunding of Obamacare does not pass, or the right to have an abortion does not pass....
Both houses have to pass legislation to become binding.
Wed, Sep 4, 2013 9:13am
"So here's the Question: What happens if President Obama gets a "yellow" light... modulated Senate approval, but a House slapdown?"
A: He attacks.
Wed, Sep 4, 2013 10:24am
EarlGrey: Correct you are. He attacks. The Constitution designates the Senate as the body that concurs on treaties and major foreign policy decision. Obama could declare Senate concurrence is all he needs.
But to attack Syrians because Syrians are attacking Syrians is so wrong!
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Sep 4, 2013 1:23pm
Kavips, EarlGrey, and JimH: Well said. I totally agree that is what the Prez will do given a "yellow light, modulated Senate approval and a House No. He'll have covered his bases.
The bigger question is what would the Prez do if both houses of Congress say NO? But based on Allan's interviews with Delaware's Congressfolks, the Senate will probably give Obama a green or yellow light [more likely a yellow to cover themselves so they can't have all the blame dumped on themselves].
I also agree with JimH's second comment, to attack Syrians because Syrians are attacking Syrians is so wrong and doesn't pass the "Just War" test of Colin Powell or the original Just War thoughts as expressed by Augustine, and later by the Catholic and Lutheran Churches [see the thread below this one here for that discussion].
Wed, Sep 4, 2013 11:02pm
"From the above, one can surmise Representative Carney will vote in the end to support the President's request for U.S. military intervention, as will Delaware's two U.S. senators, no matter if their offices are jammed with constituents' telephone calls, e-mail, and old-fashioned postal mail to the contrary."
Hopefully their constituents remember this next election cycle. The only way to get some politicians to listen is at the polls...if these three ignore their constituents...vote them out!
Thu, Sep 5, 2013 12:29pm
Again, it is the old argument reprocessed (all the way back to WWI). The two sides are, “We Can’t Go To War Over This” and “We Can’t Let This Go Unpunished”
What is almost totally missing from the argument (I’ve only seen two made) is why we can’t punish someone in ways that don’t involve going to war? Why is going to war our ONLY option?
Thu, Sep 5, 2013 12:42pm
"Why is going to war our ONLY option?"
Exactly what the 3 Delaware representatives need to tell their constituents...and the country.
Add your comment: Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal
responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of
the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members
Only Group username and password are required to process your post.
You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please
Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.