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

There you go again

I bet Obama wishes he could take back all those accusations and ugly comments he made about Republicans. He sure could use them now. Poor guy......

deertracker

He needs Democrats also. I hope the resolution fails. I think he is right for wanting to act but America can't save everyone all the time all alone. The leaders in the region need to step up!

Fromthe419

Maybe this will be the issue that brings the far right and the far left together, going in to Syria will be a disaster. I think there are many centrists that agree the "Endless Wars" must stop, it is bankrupting our Nation. Bring our troops home and stop policing the world, let someone else do it, we can't afford it and we should not be doing it.

Contango

Pres. Obama has made himself the political point man.

Prior to his leaving, Rahm Emanuel was the guy with sharp elbows.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/...

Who else is making his case and deal making on Capital Hill?

arnmcrmn

Oblama better be very careful here. He isn't getting the support he thought he would get for a pointless war that will cost billions and change nothing.

Now he attempt another teleprompter TV ad trying to get people who don't really watch the news or pay attention that much, emotionally connected to Syria with a series of speeches describing how bad some have it over there. If he can, Im sure he will use pictures.

I still do not think he will get the support he needs from both sides and if he decides to go at this alone, he's done as the president for the majority that supported him. This will also affect whoever is running D in 2016 in a big way.

deertracker

If the resolution fails I don't think he will go it alone. Not going to happen!

Contango

Re: "I don't think he will go it alone."

I don't agree. I think that the elitist SOB is just egotistical, sociopathic & narcissistic enough to do it.

He's playing the game of: Look what you made me do.

deertracker

I think you are wrong pooh!

Contango

Re: "I think,"

His dictatorial track record of shoving Obamacare down the throats of Americans and his "we can't wait" BS says otherwise Bambie.

Huron_1969

I hope you're right !!!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

As with Huron I hope you are right, deertracker. I hope the President and our representatives in Congress listen to their constituents on this matter. I am actually seeing this act as a great coming together/middle ground for the majority of both parties to meet. Maybe it will help us get some other things done that need doing?

We have some budget talks coming up and I'd hate for this to be a distraction.

Darwin's choice

Let's try this.....

"WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”

“In fact, my preference would have been for Congress to be deployed months ago,” she added.

Citing overwhelming support from the international community—including that of the Arab League, Turkey, and France, as well as Great Britain, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Japan, Mexico, China, and Canada, all of whom are reported to be unilaterally in favor of sending the U.S. Congress to Syria—the majority of survey respondents said they believe the United States should refocus its entire approach to Syria’s civil war on the ground deployment of U.S. senators and representatives, regardless of whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons or not.

In fact, 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria."

Contango

Re: "limited military intervention,"

IMO, that phrase tends to read: Punch in the nose.

The question always is: What happens next?

"Obama’s Limited Strikes Plan Faces Risks of Escalation"

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

Stop It

That was a good one, Darwin's choice. I must say that I'm all for it, as well.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Heh, I find the news source for this to be one of the most trusted out there. It's one I certainly frequent often!

arnmcrmn

Contango....all Obama will do is fire up that region with this plan. You want to actually change Syria, be prepared for another 200 billion dollar + war that will span out about 10 years and cost many of lives.

coasterfan

The interesting thing is that Americans foolishly voted in favor of a war 10 years ago, on a mere assumption that there were WMDs, which proved false. Today, we actually have proof of chemical weapons, and those weapons were ACTUALLY USED. In other words, we actually have a reason to react this time, yet we are reluctant to do anything. In 2002, fear alone was enough reason for to support a war.

It's interesting that most of the lessons we have learned from George W.Bush go in the "mistakes we want to avoid in the future" column.

Huron_1969

Learning from our mistakes is a valuable human trait and a sign of maturity. Let's hope all of our leaders embrace that

"ignorance is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result" Albert Einstein

Contango

Re: "Learning from our mistakes is a valuable human trait and a sign of maturity."

“History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” ― Mark Twain.

Technology changes, human nature - never.

Not unlike the moronic Progressives, who naively believe that they can perfect a kinder-gentler form of communism.

Contango

Re: "on a mere assumption that there were WMDs, which proved false."

Are you caught in a mental feedback loop?

EVERY intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq had WMD.

Saddam WANTED the world to believe that he had WMD.

Georges Sada, former Iraqi National Security Advisor and retired general officer of the Iraqi Air Force wrote that the WMD was moved to Syria.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/...

Lastly, Libya disposed of their WMD due to the U.S. actions in Iraq.

NOW, flip to Sept. 2013: Why are you NOT supporting your Pres?

shucks

The Bush administration knew the truth - they just played on fears and assumptions.

Contango

"...and the truth was?"

So you're supporting Pres. Obama attacking Syria in order to help find the Iraqi WMD?

Contango

Re: "they just played on fears and assumptions."

How is THAT any 'different' than the arguments being made by the Obama admin. for military intervention in Syria?

Pres. Obama says that it's a matter of U.S. national security. How so?

Come on, you know that you wanna support YOUR prez – make the case.

shucks

Wasn't it about "mushroom clouds"?
Re-writers have been talking about gas.
Depends upon who you talk to about who's poison gas it is.
Read the news lately?
http://news.yahoo.com/eu-syria-g...

Contango

Re: "Wasn't it about 'mushroom clouds'?"

You tell me.

Again: Aren't Pres. Obama arguments based on "fears and assumptions"?

shucks

I don't call you "Clowntango" for nothing.

You like talking a lot, don't you ?

Contango

Re: "I don't..."

Off-topic.

Again: Come on, you know that you wanna support YOUR prez – make the case.

shucks

"Again: Come on, you know that you wanna support YOUR prez – make the case"

Off - topic.

Contango

Re: "Off - topic."

Pres. Obama asking for Congressional support for military intervention in Syria ain't the topic?

Where do you stand on the issue?

deertracker

@coaster
Great point!

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 !

shucks

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

shucks

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

Darwin's choice

And another azzlikker !

shucks

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

Darwin's choice

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

shucks

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.

shucks

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

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.

Contango

Re: "All of this was set in motion after WW II,"

More like WWI.

Even Keynes wrote that the Treaty of Versailles could sow the seeds of another war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The...

The U.S. should have kept it's nose out of it in 1917, but Pres. Wilson (D) was an interventionist.

The Big Dog's back

Should we have kept our nose out of WW ll also pooh?

shucks

Yeah Clowntango ,
War with Japan and Germany was totally unnecessary , right?

arnmcrmn

I know its hard guys, but lets talk about whats happening today...you know, stay on topic.

Darwin's choice

Martin and Lewis are practicing for their next failure.....

Contango

"Who Is Going To Buy The US Debt If This War Causes China, Russia And The Rest Of The World To Turn On Us?"

"If the United States is not very careful, it is going to pay a tremendous economic price for taking military action in Syria"

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

Darwin's choice

Things that make you go hmmmmm....?

"The ten Senate Foreign Relations Committee members who voted to attack Syria received 83 percent more campaign contributions from defense contractors than the seven senators who voted against it, according to analysis from Maplight.org.
Examining data from 2007 to 2012, the analysts found that the average senator who voted “yes” on the authorization of the use of military force took $72,850 from defense contractors and other defense industry interests. Senators who voted “no” received just $39,770 on average.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain led the pack among those in favor, raking in about $176,000 from defense interests over five years. Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin garnered $127,000 from the defense industry, followed by Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, who picked up a cool $101,000."
__________________

shucks

One gets paid no matter what they vote ?

Contango

Re: "received 83 percent more campaign contributions from defense contractors,"

Good to know that the military-industrial-congressional complex component of "The Iron Triangle" is alive and well.

Follow the money: Who's Pres. Obama payin' off?

"Saudi Arabia, Qatar 'bribing' US congressmen to approve war on Syria"

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/201...

JudgeMeNot

Hitler finds out Obama is bombing Syria.

http://youtu.be/tIRzVgcXF6w

I love how liberals suddenly become war mongers now that a democrat is starting them.

Contango

The Obama Admin. have become "bagboys" for the Saudis and others.

Sec'y of State Kerry, Sept. 4:

"With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes," "They have. That offer is on the table."

"In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,"

http://www.realclearpolitics.com...

And this is the same guy who came back from 'Nam and protested against the war?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y...

Stop It

Paid assassins? They want the USA to be hitmen?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry....

Contango

It certainly looks like we're goin' to war (again) boys and girls.

"The US secretary of state has said that President Bashar al-Assad has one week to hand over his entire stock of chemical weapons to avoid a military attack."

http://www.theguardian.com/world...

arnmcrmn

Whats funny is Syria has been torturing and killing hundreds of thousands of its people way before Obama and now all of a sudden a few are supposedly killed by chemical weapons and now we have to intervene. What about the other 90% Obie....those deaths are ok?

This is like the Trayvon Martin of the middle east with Obie. Pick and choose when he wants to get involved.

shucks

Hard hearted,sick puppet.