By Justin Sink - 09/03/13 11:06 PM EDT
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday said the Obama administration was "quite confident" it would prevail in a congressional vote authorizing a military strike in Syria.
Rice defended the administration from critics who have charged that seeking congressional approval could give the Assad regime time to prepare. But Rice said that the administration had not "announced our intentions to the enemy."
"The United States has been making clear for years that it is unacceptable to use chemical weapons," Rice said. "When President Obama made the statement last summer, he was speaking on behalf of the American people and the Congress."
She also downplayed the likelihood that the Syrian conflict could spiral out of control, requiring further American intervention or putting lives at risk.
"It's always a risk that military action can evolve in a complicated way. But we think that's a very limited risk in this case," Rice said.
Her comments came shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry refused to rule out boots on the ground in Syria, saying the president could need to order troops into the country to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands of terror groups.
“I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president that might secure our country,” he said.
But, Kerry insisted, "there will not be American troops on the ground with respect to the civil war."
Rice's television appearance — her first since becoming national security adviser — comes as the Obama administration looks to rally support for the president's request for authorization to use military force.
In what administration officials have called a "flood the zone" strategy, the president and top Cabinet members have lobbied members of Congress to support the proposal. Kerry will head back to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify publicly before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, while also participating in a classified gathering of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Rice's appearance also comes despite lingering controversy over her appearance last year in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack. At that time, Rice said that she believed that the violence began spontaneously from a protest. Republicans later charged that she had been deliberately deceitful.