By The Hill Editors - 09/09/13 11:34 PM EDT
President Obama is facing a likely defeat on his Syria authorization request, but the White House is attempting to change the minds of many members.
He has gotten help from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who on Monday compared Syria’s use of chemical weapons to actions by the Nazis.
The first vote on Syria is expected to occur in the Senate. The Obama administration hopes passage in the upper chamber will generate momentum in the House, where “no” votes have been piling up.
But getting through the Senate is no sure thing; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week approved it by only a 10-7 vote.
Some Democrats, including Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii), have said they oppose American military intervention.
Reid must minimize defections or the Syria initiative will fail in his chamber. Most Republicans will probably vote “no,” and some might support a filibuster.
Reid has been able to unite his caucus in the past, but whipping on a war-related measure is tricky. He has urged his Democratic colleagues to at least vote with the president on torpedoing a filibuster.
It is open to doubt, however, that if they did so, there would also be a majority willing to vote “yes” on the underlying bill, especially as the public is strongly opposed to intervention.
At this point, Reid can only do so much. It is up to the president to change minds, and he is undertaking a media blitz to do so, which will culminate in Tuesday’s address to the nation. After that, Reid will try to win over skeptical members of his caucus.