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GOP lawmakers doubt Congress will approve Syrian military strike

Two Republican lawmakers said Sunday Congress was unlikely to grant President Obama’s request for a military strike against Syria.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he personally would oppose military action and would vote no.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he supported action, but expressed reservations over whether Congress would back Obama.

He also repeated his criticism that Obama was abdicating leadership by not launching a military strike on his own.

“I think it is going to be difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there's going to be time over the next nine days for opposition to build up to it,” King said.

He also said President Obama had not made the case for military action to Congress.

“The president has not made the case,” he continued. “When they see the president being so weak and vacillating many members will vote no.”

Asked directly whether the GOP conference in the House would vote in favor of authorization, King said it was unlikely at this point, citing a "damaging" "isolationist wing" of the party.

"Right now, I would say if the vote were today, it would probably be a no vote. I'm hoping by the time next week comes around, and hopefully the president can make his case, that he will be able to get a majority of the House of Representatives. Right now it will be very difficult," he said.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," echoed King's call for Obama to "make his case to Congress" — and said that if he's not successful in doing so, he could put the passage of the resolution in jeopardy.

"I would say if the president cannot make his case to Congress, then it's not going to pass," he said.

He also charged that Obama had shown "weakness" on Syria, in seeming to pivot away from immediate action to seek congressional approval for attacks.

Inhofe was also critical of Obama's shift, accusing him of "retreat[ing]" from his initial position on Syria.

“If you’re going to say something, you’ve got to back it up, and this president clearly has retreated from the position that he took, not just in the last couple of days, but about a week ago when he talked about a red line.”

And asked whether he thought Congress would vote in favor of military action, Inhofe said: “I don't think they will.”

On CNN, however, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) predicted Sunday that Congress would authorize a military strike against Syria.

“I think at the end of the day Congress will rise to the occasion,” he said on the CNN program State of the Union. “This is a national security issue.”

He called the evidence of chemical attacks powerful.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), too, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he was "confident that Congress will rally behind the principle that use of chemical weapons is wrong, and it can't go unpunished.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the second senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the president now faces the task of convincing Congress and the American people that a military strike is necessary.

"I think the president has to work diligently, not just the president but his whole Cabinet, to convince not just the Congress but the American people that this is in the interest of the United States, not just simply in the interest of another country,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

Ben Geman contributed to this story.

This story was posted at 9:48 a.m. and was updated at 2:00 p.m.

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