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President Barack Obama faces a clear uphill battle in swaying skeptical lawmakers of the merits of military action in Syria, as top officials were dispatched to Capitol Hill Sunday to make the administration’s case.
For example, Senate Democratic aides are drafting new language for an authorization of military force in Syria, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Sunday.
The administration’s proposal is too open-ended — a complaint many lawmakers have — Leahy said after leaving the classified briefing. The current version wouldn’t garner his support, but he indicated that a more tightly written draft might.
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are overseeing the revisions to the authorization of force measure, which seek to narrow the scope for any U.S. military mission in Syria, Democratic sources said.
Obama administration officials drafted their own resolution that was sent to Capitol Hill on Saturday without congressional input, and it was clear from the moment that it was unveiled that party leaders in both chambers would seek to change it.
“If we stand idly by and allow the gassing of men, women and children by a ruthless thug, it will send a message to every despot across the world and every terrorist group across the world that you can commit war crimes and there’s no penalty for it,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “And I think that’s the most compelling reason for us to take action
“I think if the Congress acts like the British Parliament, I think that we’ve abrogated our responsibility,” he added