Paul Hosts Secret Anti-War Meeting

by Robert Costa & Jonathan Strong

In a secret meeting on Tuesday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) hosted a bipartisan group of senators and House members at the Capitol. According to several participants, the lawmakers plotted ways to stop the use of force in Syria, and they shared the latest unofficial whip counts from their chambers.

“It’s ten-to-one against in the House GOP,” says a House Republican who was in the room. “I also learned from the Democrats that House Democrats are two-to-one against, and [minority leader] Nancy Pelosi can’t find the votes.”

Since the diplomatic situation is fluid, there was no final consensus on how best to combat the administration, but potential legislative maneuvers, press appearances, and letters were discussed. Several undecided members asked questions.

As he left the session, Senator Paul was optimistic. “The American public is with us on this, and so is a lot of Congress,” he says. “There is a bipartisan consenus . . . I don’t think it’ll pass in the House right now, and even in the Senate, I’m starting to wonder if there are 60 votes.”

Aides say Paul planned the gathering over a week ago, and the list of attendees grew by the day. He is pleased, especially, by the number of Democrats who are eager to work with him to kill the war resolution. Representatives Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii), among other liberals, spoke.

On the Republican side, senators Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), John Boozman (Ark.), and John Barrasso (Wyo.) were there. So was a group of House Republicans, such as Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Garrett (N.J.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Justin Amash (Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), and Paul Broun (Ga.).

The meeting, which started at 8:00 a.m., was held in the Capitol’s basement and lasted for nearly an hour. It was a conversational setting, with members sitting and talking through the issue, rather than giving speeches.