By Justin Sink - 09/09/13 02:24 PM EDT
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Monday that the administration believes that "at the end of the day, the votes will be there in the Senate and the House" for an authorization to strike Syria.
"We're not going to win every [lawmaker's] vote, but we believe at the end of the day we have the strongest case to make," Rhodes told CNN's "New Day."
The confidence comes despite whip counts showing an uphill battle for President Obama in Congress. According to The Hill's tally, only 26 senators and 31 House members have said they plan to vote for the authorization, while 19 senators and 142 House members plan to vote against it.
Rhodes said that while the administration understands "that it's a tough vote for members of Congress," officials ultimately believe "it's important for everyone to come forward and be counted through that vote."
He also said that Americans should not be concerned by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who warned in an interview Monday with CBS that he U.S. should “expect every action” in retaliation of a strike.
“It’s simply not in anybody’s interest to invite further strikes from the United States by doing anything,” Rhodes said. “We’re going to make it very clear; we’re prepared for any contingency. Our military can handle whatever comes at us. But the fact of the matter is, we don’t think it’s in the interest of Assad or any of his allies in the region to… test the resolve of the United States by doing something after we take this strike.”
Assad also said that that his forces were "not in the area… where the alleged chemical weapons attack" happened.
Rhodes dismissed that denial, saying there was "no doubt in our mind" he was accountable for chemical weapons use by his regime.
"Frankly, it's not surprising that someone who used those weapons would then lie about it," Rhodes said.