Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday delayed a vote on using military force against Syria.
Faced with stiffening opposition from Republicans and skepticism from many Democrats, Reid said he would not rush the vote to begin considering the controversial use-of-force resolution.
He insisted he was not delaying action because of a lack of votes.
Reid said the delay could give senators more time to weigh the arguments of President Obama and other proponents of launching military strikes against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I don’t think we need to see how fast we can do this. We have to see how well we can do this matter,” Reid said. “I think what we need to do is make sure that the president has the opportunity to speak to all 100 senators and all 300 million American people before we do this.”
Reid was expected to set up a key procedural vote Wednesday on proceeding to the resolution.
The delay of the Senate vote came as Obama said it was "possible" military action against Syria could be avoided if the country turned over all its chemical weapons.
The idea was floated early Monday by Secretary of State John Kerry and quickly endorsed by Russia as a solution to the crisis.
"I think it's certainly a positive development when ... the Russians and the Syrians both make gestures toward dealing with these chemical weapons. This is what we've been asking for not just over the last week or the last month, but for the last couple of years,” Obama told CNN.