Pryor deals blow to Obama, opposes military action in Syria

Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorKyrsten Sinema is less of a political enigma than she is a strategic policymaker  Bottom line Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (D-Ark.) said Saturday that he is opposed to military action on Syria, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to win congressional approval for strikes.

Pryor said in a statement that the Obama administration’s presentations and testimony over the past week had not proven to him there was a compelling case for using military force.

“Before any military action in Syria is taken, the administration must prove a compelling national security interest, clearly define a mission that has a definitive end-state and then build a true coalition of allies that would actively participate in any action we take,” Pryor said in a statement.

“Based on the information presented to me and the evidence I have gathered, I do not believe these criteria have been met, and I cannot support military action against Syria at this time,” he said.


Pryor is the fifth Senate Democrat to come out against military action in Syria, joining Sens. Joe ManchinJoe Manchin​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Sunday shows - Voting rights legislation dominates Kaine says core of spending bill will pass but most of it is 'dead' MORE (D-W.Va.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyEquilibrium/Sustainability — Bald eagle comeback impacted by lead poison Dems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill Democrats race to squash Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill MORE (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Tom UdallTom UdallCruz to get Nord Stream 2 vote as part of deal on Biden nominees Democrats threaten to play hardball over Cruz's blockade Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees MORE (D-N.M.).

Pryor’s opposition increases the challenge that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAfter the loss of three giants of conservation, Biden must pick up the mantle Photos of the Week: Voting rights, former Sen. Harry Reid and snowy owls Black Democrats hammer Manchin for backing filibuster on voting rights MORE (D-Nev.) and the White House’s face to secure enough support for military strikes. 

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution on Wednesday, after it passed Senate Foreign Relations Committee 10-7 this past week, in a vote that had senators in both parties on both sides.

Pryor is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014, and a vote on Syrian military action could prove to be a divisive issue in that race.

Rep. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Will Putin sink Biden? MORE (R-Ark.), Pryor’s likely Republican challenger, has been part of a small group of House Republicans who are supporting military action.

Cotton, a House freshman, penned an op-ed with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) this week arguing that “core U.S. national security interests are implicated in Syria, more so than ever by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s use of chemical weapons.”

Public opinion has sided against taking military action, and constituent calls to congressional offices have been overwhelmingly opposed strikes, lawmakers say. Pryor noted in his statement he had heard "the concerns of thousands of Arkansans as I have traveled the state."