Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Finance: Inside Trump's tax plan | White House mulls order pulling out of NAFTA | New fight over Dodd-Frank begins Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' GOP leaders, top tax writers: Trump principles will be 'critical guideposts' MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday did not offer support for a military strike against Syria.
In a stark contrast with GOP leaders in the House, McConnell voiced skepticism about a strike and said Obama needed to explain more to Congress and the public.
McConnell is up for reelection in 2014 and is facing a tough Tea Party challenge from the right.
Fellow Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulDestructive 'fat cat' tax law a complete flop. It's time to repeal it. Trump must take action in Macedonia to fix damage done by Obama and Clinton We can put America first by preventing public health disasters MORE opposes military intervention in Syria, something that may be weighing on McConnell.
Senate Republicans said the president needs to do a better job explaining his rationale for a military strike in the wake of chemical weapons attacks outside of Damascus.
The GOP skepticism means that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) will have to rely heavily on his own caucus to pass a resolution authorizing force.
This could force him to corral skeptical liberals like Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphySenators get North Korea briefing in unusual WH visit Hoyer not insisting on ObamaCare subsidies in spending bill A Vandenberg movement in Congress MORE (D-Conn.), who have expressed concern about another military action in the Middle East.
McConnell’s deputy, Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page MORE (Texas), also voiced misgivings about a limited strike against the military forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“What the president can do is to make the case to the American people. It’s important that he bring Congress in but he needs to make the case to the American people and that case hasn’t been made yet,” Cornyn told reporters.
Cornyn said a limited military strike might have a counterproductive effect.
“If it is so targeted and so limited it may have the opposite effect than the president intends,” he said. “It may be viewed as so insignificant that it actually emboldens other international bullies.”
Sen. Jim RischJim RischThe outdoor recreation economy is a force that is here to stay Tax profits not cash flow: An alternative to the GOP plan that helps small business Senate panel advances small business cybersecurity bill MORE (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “extremely reluctant” to authorize a strike on Libya.
But Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate Foreign Relations chair: Erdogan referendum win 'not something to applaud' Groups warn of rural health 'crisis' under ObamaCare repeal MORE (Tenn.), the top ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations panel, predicted enough Republicans would support an authorization resolution to pass it through the Senate with at least 60 votes.
Corker said Obama needs to make a broader argument for why it is important to support rebel fighters in Syria and why the conflict is important to U.S. national security.
“I have a strong sense that we will be able to come to terms fairly quickly with what an authorization ought to say,” Corker said of his talks with Senate Democratic leaders over an authorization of force resolution.
This story was updated at 1:58 p.m.