Obama faces challenge with House GOP freshmen

Persuading first-term Republicans in the House is President Barack Obama's toughest sell on military strikes against Syria.
Associated Press
Sep 6, 2013

Many of the three dozen freshmen in the House come from solidly GOP districts where voters have a deep distrust of the president on health care and immigration. Members of the Washington establishment just a few months, the freshmen barely know President Barack Obama, as his invitations to exclusive White House dinners, part of the president's postelection charm offensive, have been to senators only.

For these first-termers, their only brush with the president came in March when Obama visited Capitol Hill to talk with all House Republicans. Today he's asking them to vote for war, and their reluctance highlights the president's daunting task in securing congressional approval.

"I haven't heard a word about how the targeted, limited strikes protect America's national security," Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski said in an interview. "How does this fit into a long-term plan for the Middle East? What is the endgame? Giving (Syrian President Bashar) Assad two weeks to move all his weaponry around while we sit here and do whatever the president's doing? I've got a lot of questions; my district has got a lot of questions."

Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement on Friday saying that at this point, she could not support the president's request and his "incomplete case to the American people," though she promised to take a close look at any legislation.

Among the Republican freshmen class of 37, including returning members such as Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Steve Stockman of Texas, at least seven lawmakers have said they would vote against giving Obama the authority to use military force against Syria, two have announced their support and the rest remain undecided. The president faces growing congressional opposition from Republicans and Democrats even though a Senate committee delivered crucial support with a narrow vote Wednesday for force.

Three members of the Senate Armed Services announced their opposition on Thursday: Republicans David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah, and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. An Associated Press survey found 34 senators in support or leaning in favor, 32 against or leaning and 34 undecided ahead of votes next week.

The president has argued that a limited military response is warranted after chemical weapons attacks that the administration says killed more than 1,400 civilians, including at least 400 children. The Syrian government denies responsibility, contending that rebels fighting to topple the Assad government were to blame.

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and an announced 'no' vote, challenged Obama's argument that the credibility of the international community and Congress was on the line.

"Did we have credibility under Ronald Reagan?" Radel said in an interview. "Chemical weapons under Saddam Hussein were used in 1987 and we did nothing and I do not think that our credibility was compromised in any way, shape or form."

Radel is one House freshman who has had a personal connection with Obama, albeit brief.

"I got to shake his hand, meet him, actually shared a little moment," Radel said, recalling the GOP conference meeting in March. "I lived in Chicago a couple of years and I know for a fact that he used to frequent a blues club where I'd hang out."

Another Republican freshman, Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, said in a statement that "it is not the responsibility of the United States to get involved in a country's civil war. Neither side in this civil war has the United States' best interest in mind."

Two GOP freshmen said they would support military action: Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, president of the freshman class, and Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Messer warned the administration that it must do more to rally support.

"America doesn't like to watch bullies stand by and do evil things to their people. But the American people inherently understand, intuitively understand, that there are high risks to action here too," Messer told Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, at a House hearing Wednesday.

"And if I were to make a suggestion, I think we've got a lot of work to do to help the American people understand why the risks of action are less than the risk of inaction," he said.

The top two Republicans in the House — Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia — support Obama on limited military action against Syria, but rank-and-file Republicans have repeatedly bucked the leadership this year, at least on domestic issues. A vote to authorize military force is a matter of conscience in which leadership is unlikely to pressure lawmakers.

Defense hawks such as Sen. John McCain, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee and an aggressive proponent of military strikes, have little sway with House Republicans, especially the 100-plus who were elected in the past two elections. Many of the tea party-driven 2010 class and the 2012 lineup comprise the GOP's noninterventionist wing.

Potentially influential with freshmen is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. In a statement this week, the organization urged lawmakers to back military force, saying, "Barbarism on a mass scale must not be given a free pass."

A large delegation of AIPAC members plan to press lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week.

Walorski, the Indiana freshman, was part of a congressional group that traveled to Israel last month on a trip sponsored by the education foundation of AIPAC.

"We were standing on the Syrian border two weeks ago and the artillery fire — you could hear it, you could feel it in your feet, you could feel it in your chest, nonstop," Walorski said.

New York Rep. Chris Collins recalled staring across the Golan Heights into Syria.

"The Israeli position will carry some weight with me," Collins said in an interview. "They are the country that would bear the brunt of any kind of retaliation."

Comments

goofus

Interesting history rewrite from just another leftist progressive! I suppose the gassing of the Iranians in Basra during the Iranian incursion of 1988 means nothing to you oh great worthless one. Would you also tell the Kurds that sarin isn't the bogeyman that killed their countrymen also in 1988.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal...

SamAdams

There are a couple of relevant differences here:

1. The War in Iraq was effectively (VERY effectively!) presented largely as part and parcel of the War on Terror, which

2. Was a direct response to a direct attack on U.S. soil.

In this case, the intelligence may be better, but there's no way to present the issue as a response to a direct attack or as preventive of a clear and present threat of direct attack. You can make all of the humanitarian arguments you want (and some are pretty hard to argue against), but you're still effectively declaring war whether you call it that or not. And if you consider the war in Iraq a mistake (many who didn't then do now), then you're right that a lesson should have been learned that directly applies to the situation in Syria!

The Big Dog's back

Delusional.

Darwin's choice

From the resident azzlikker !

4shizzle

You shouldn't bring your mother into this, Darwin's anus.

4shizzle

SamAdams is another good example of a kool-aid drinking Republican.

Darwin's choice

And another azzlikker !

4shizzle

...and your daddy , if you know who he is.

Darwin's choice

What does Big Dog see when he lifts his tail? 4Shizzle!

4shizzle

Wrong,

He sees your tongue , "azzlikker".

JudgeMeNot

I love how liberals suddenly become war mongers now that a democrat is starting them.
So, all you uninformed voters that put Mr. Incompetent back into office, are you ready to follow him into war? ?

JudgeMeNot

Demand a NO vote on US attacks on Syria.
No War with Syria.
https://www.facebook.com/nowarwi...

JudgeMeNot

Obama has taken the most liberal of the liberals- who has always hated wars-& turned them into warmongers. Where are the Hollywood Liberals when you need them?

JudgeMeNot

Hey all you liberals, its okay to oppose Obama, you're not a racist if you disagree with him.

Really are you ...

Have the NSA investigate Syria, then send in Congress. Maybe Obama should take a vacation there also. I would bet there are a lot of sand traps he would have to negotiate through while he is golfing.

Contango

Pres. Obama:

“My goal is to maintain the international norm on banning chemical weapons,” “I’m not itching for military action.”

Me, me, me, I, I, I.

Where the h*ll is the term "U.S." in the statements of this narcissistic, egotistical SOB?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20...

JudgeMeNot

Liberals might finally get their wish to indict a president for committing war crimes.

JudgeMeNot

Truth and Common SENSE, 2 words, are foreign to a liberal. They despise truth and common sense. Hence their love for Obama.

JudgeMeNot

The silence of the sheep? Where are all of the anti-war Hollywood liberals like Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, George Clooney and Barbra Streisand? Oh that's right, they don't wanna feel anti-black.

SamAdams

I saw a new poster the other day making the rounds on the Internet. It was an image of a pretty long-haired blonde girl wearing a flowing top, a headband, and round wire-rimmed glasses — all VERY 1960's. The caption: "I never knew war was so cool 'til Obama started one!"

Contango

"Attacking Syria Would Be The Most Unpopular Intervention In The Last 20 Years [CHART]"

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/p...

gramafun

While I do not condone the use of chemcial weapons being used EVER, what is the true reason we would even take an attack mode in this civil war? Is it to protect Isreal again? Is that the real reason that Obama wants to do this? Is the long range message that he is fearful that eventually this man will turn his weapons on Israel and begin a war with them?

Because I am almost certain that there will be NO short term plan here. I truly believe that bombs will not be the only thing that happens here. Long range bombers are only the beginning. How long before ground troops become necessary? When are they going to become the enforcement? This has been a sticking point for me since this talk began. I do not believe on word that is being said, I think there is far more to it.

And I worry that Iran will become involved very quickly at the first sign of American intervention into this civil war. Is this the other part not being discussed as yet? I don't think anyone is asking nor answering ANY of this. Why is that?

Contango

Dennis Kucinich:

"Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/de...

Contango

The Comedian-in-Chief, Aug. 9:

"I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he's (Putin) got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom."

Seems like Putin is gettin' the last laugh.

"Putin Forms Alliance Against US use of Force in Syria":

"The countries of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and Italy are now lining up against a military intervention in Syria by the United States.

Obama’s support for military use against Syria has failed, and Vladimir Putin is proving to be a formidable political power capable of dancing circles around the Obama Administration."

http://armstrongeconomics.com/20...

The Big Dog's back

Comrade winnie.

4shizzle

Sounds like he has a man-crush on comrade Putin.

goofus

I guess Oboz0 said that no civilians should be killed by poison gas, that's what we have drones for!!!!

The Big Dog's back

Sure glad bush came up with those.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

In 2009 Obama carried out as many drone strikes on Pakistan as Bush did in five years. Under President Bush there was a drone strike about once every 40 days; under President Obama that increased to one drone strike every 4 days.

Fromthe419

I wish everyone would stop with their partisan bickering, let's face it both parties have contributed to the mess we are in as a nation and with our foreign policy. All of this was set in motion after WW II, the Middle East was a train wreck and we let industry go in and exploit the resources that they had and we put dictators in place and let them do as they wanted. Eventually, they (the citizens) woke up and wanted to change the political landscape and unfortunately the only organized groups were radicalized Muslims. The US, France, Germany, England et al propped up these dictators and we now have to deal with the aftermath. We can not force our "style" of government on them if they do not want it, and we can not force our "style" of law on them. Let them do as they wish. Egypt wanted change and once they got it they realized it wasn't any better than what they had before. There can be peace in the Middle East, but the only way it will happen will be through they people, not by the United States or anyone else forcing it upon them.

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