Will Congress Authorize Use of Force?
The White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, said it's "too early to come to any conclusion," about whether the administration will get enough votes in Congress to go ahead with the use of force against the Assad regime in Syria. McDonough, who has been in the lead on the effort to convince Congress, said it isn't a question about intelligence, but rather what the U.S. will do to answer such a heinous attack. The "question for Congress is 'are there consequences for a dictator who would use those weapons to gas hundreds of children to death," McDonough said. Although the "no" votes seem to have quickly become insurmountable, in the House especially, McDonough suggested the coming week, when the members return to Washington, is when decisions will truly begin to be made. Members of Congress, who have been home for the Summer recess, have been inundated with feedback from constituents who are war weary and are pressuring their members to vote against the resolution. McDonough said that is an "absolutely understandable sentiment," but reiterated that the president's plan calls for a limited, targeted effort. In his Friday press conference, the president seemed reluctant to answer whether he would go ahead with military action if Congress voted against such action. McDonough, pressed for a straightforward answer said, "If Congress wants consequences, they're going to have to vote for it." Perhaps the staunchest opponent of the president's plan is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and voted against authorizing use of force this week. On "Fox News Sunday," he expressed concern about siding with the opposition as well as the strategy laid out so far by the White House. The "most difficult thing is if we go in on side of the rebels, we will be going in on the side of al Qaeda," Paul said, referring to numerous reports of extremist elements infiltrating the rebels' ranks. Of the battle plan as it has been proposed Paul said that while "whoever ordered that (chemical attack) deserves death,"the attack plan would not hold Bashir al-Assad accountable. "The attack plan is not to target Assad," or aimed at regime change, Paul said. Furthermore, Paul added that he thinks there is a chance Assad will be "more emboldened if we do attack him."