(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
President Barack Obama continues to rally support for his plan to punish Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people, and several senators may be crucial to getting the 60 votes needed to move forward on a use of force resolution.
Not every member on this list will be a “yes” — indeed, some most definitely will vote “no” — but each senator can influence the debate as the United States considers potential military engagement in another Middle Eastern country.
On Monday, the Syrian government indicated it may be willing to give up its chemical weapons to avoid a strike, but that doesn’t get these senators off the hook for a vote as early as this week. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the only reason the Syrians were even floating the idea is because of the threat of a strike.
“We need to keep the pressure on,” Carney said. “The only reason why we are seeing this proposal is because of the U.S. threat of military action.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate Monday by noting the importance of the debate to come. “This matter demands the attention of the Senate and this country,” the Nevada Democrat said. “Regardless of where senators stand on the merits of this issue, all should agree that we should have this debate.”
Reid noted that the week will be filled with personal appeals and classified briefings from senior administration officials, including Obama himself. The president is due to address the Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch on Tuesday and has extended an offer to speak to GOP senators as well, Reid said.
Before Monday’s development, some senators had already been privately wined-and-dined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Obama, while others have visited the White House or been on the receiving end of a call from the president.
But there are some senators who are worth watching more closely than others as the debate unfolds this week. Full story