President Obama’s surprise decision to seek congressional approval for a Syria strike puts the plan in the hands of the Republican-controlled House, but it’s far from clear the House will comply.
GOP sources say it is highly unlikely leadership will whip support for the proposal; such “votes of conscience” are typically left to members’ discretion.
While there is still plenty of time for Obama to make the case for war, lawmakers are still seeking answers to big questions, chief among them being what a strike would accomplish.
That’s true among Democrats as well. One Democratic aide says if the “strategic objective is to slap someone’s wrist,” that won’t exactly be compelling.
Some liberal commentators have reacted with glee that Obama’s plan puts the political onus on Speaker John Boehner. But the initial reaction by Republican insiders is that Obama faces far more risk, since he would look profoundly weak in defeat.