Poll: Obama needs congressional approval for action in Syria

Half of Americans say they oppose the United States taking military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad after last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus, while nearly eight-in-10 believe President Obama should be required to receive congressional approval before any intervention.

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The NBC poll, released Friday, was conducted as the Obama administration tries to rally public and congressional support for a military strike on the Syrian regime.

The White House briefed congressional leaders Thursday night on the situation.

According to the survey, 50 percent of respondents oppose the United States taking military action in the war-torn country, compared with 42 percent who support it.

Slightly more, 58 percent, agree with the statement that the use of chemical weapons by any country violates a “red line” that requires a firm U.S. response.

But an overwhelming 79 percent of Americans said Obama should be required to obtain congressional authorization before any intervention. The support for congressional approval crosses partisan lines, including nearly seven-in-10 Democrats and 90 percent of Republicans.

The public is more supportive of action against Assad when military action is limited to using cruise missiles launched from naval warships: Fifty percent favor that kind of intervention, while 44 percent oppose it.

In a setback to the White House and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to build a coalition ahead of a possible strike, the British Parliament on Thursday rejected a preliminary vote authorizing military strikes.

Despite the vote, the Obama administration said that the president is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike without the assistance of allies.

French President François Hollande offered Obama much-needed international support on Friday, saying that the French military is ready to take “firm” action against Assad’s regime despite the British parliamentary vote.

The NBC poll of 700 adults was conducted Aug. 28-29, and has a margin of plus-minus 3.7 percentage points.