(Updated) Pro-war House Dem leaders “throwing in the towel” on Syria resolution?

Update: This may turn on phone calls. Yves Smith just made the analogy to the first TARP vote, which failed because calls to Congress were running more than 90% against. If so, you can help. Senate phone numbers here. House phone numbers here.

You might especially target Elizabeth Warren, who seems teetery. See the middle of the Smith post referenced above (search on Warren) to read more. Elizabeth Warren’s DC office number is (202) 224-4543.

Please report back if you find out anything interesting. Thanks!

The Syria news moves apace, the latest chapter being Obama’s desire for a war resolution from Congress. Will he get it? In the House, things are looking dim.

Via Jake Tapper, here’s Democratic House leader (and Obama supporter) Chris Van Hollen on the prospects of a Syria war resolution (AUMF, authorization to use military force).

Tapper (my emphasis):

Congress via Shutterstock

Congress via Shutterstock

Three top Obama officials made another round Wednesday in their campaign to sway Congress to support the president’s proposal for limited military strikes in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.

The hearing showcased plenty of skepticism from both sides of the aisle.

Asked if a war resolution can get through this House, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I don’t think anybody knows right now.”

At issue is an attempt by Van Hollen to offer a limited-strike-only amendment to the AUMF, hoping to thus get it passed. He doesn’t sound hopeful.

For confirmation, here’s Matt Stoller via Twitter:

And here’s Rep. Alan Grayson, pointing to the Washington Post:

It may pass in the Senate, and die in the House. Here’s hoping (he editorially said).

Of course, we know the administration thinks Congressional approval is moot. If it fails to pass, will Obama go for it anyway? We may get a chance to see.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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52 Responses to “(Updated) Pro-war House Dem leaders “throwing in the towel” on Syria resolution?”

  1. Houndentenor says:

    Well for one thing it appears that Syria, unlike Iraq, has these weapons. The problem is that we are now the Country that Cried Wolf. Why should anyone trust us for decades to come when we so blatantly lied. Yes, it’s a different commander in chief but most of the people who participated in the last mess are still in the same jobs. What I want is for Obama to accept a no vote from Congress and look for alternatives.

  2. Houndentenor says:

    Well, none were show in the US media. None. Meanwhile in Germany (where I was living at the time) color pictures of bloody women and children were on the front page of every newspaper. Americans lived in a news blackout in 2002-2003 as we went into and started a war.

  3. BloggerDave says:

    “Update: This may turn on phone calls. Yves Smith just made the analogy to the first TARP vote, which failed because calls to Congress were running more than 90% against. If so, you can help. Senate phone numbers here. House phone numbers here.”

    Wow, GP… I didn’t think you could overdramatize this one too but you actually did it! FYI, there will be no second vote….

  4. BeccaM says:

    Pardon my crudeness, but that’s just fucking sad…

  5. Ramon Nieves says:

    Great news even for an Obama supporter as I. This is not our fight. Let the Europeans and The Arab League handle this on their own. We don’t have any money for schools, lunch for poor children,Head Start programs and for our infrastructure which is falling apart. Let’s spend the money that would be spent on this strike on creating jobs for the American people and let’s stop this nonsence of being policemen to an ungrateful world.

  6. Naja pallida says:

    We could be down to the lass penny available in the treasury, and it would go to a war contractor. No matter what, they always find ways to fund wars. Money to pave a road? Build a school? Hire a fire fighter? Not so much.

  7. Ford Prefect says:

    In principle, I totally agree. In practice, it would seem to violate the code between the two parties that the executive shall remain unbothered by such things as accountability. Honor among thieves, as it were.

    Even if the House were to prosecute, the Senate would not oblige either the joint committee or the punishment phase. On the other hand, given the massive potential for terrible consequences of this war, it might be possible simply so everyone can avoid taking responsibility for the war itself.

    I was in favor of impeaching Bush and I’d favor it now. Perhaps in the wake of mass casualties and economic disaster (how far will oil rise under Iranian threats, without even any action on their part?), attitudes might change and everyone might climb on board to impeach him.

    MSNBC is right in saying “this isn’t Iraq.” It’s actually much worse. Of course, they won’t admit that, will they?

  8. bhull says:

    Now that is seems the House will vote no, the question then becomes what will Obama do? If he attacks after the House votes no I think the House will move to impeach him.

  9. Thom Allen says:

    Has any Congresscreature said that we can’t attack Syria because of the sequester?

  10. Houndentenor says:

    I think you mean there’s plenty of money for Halliburton et al. and none for anything else.

  11. Houndentenor says:

    I had people (not conservatives, liberals) tell me that no civilians were being killed in Iraq. I shit you not.

  12. Houndentenor says:

    Like bombs can go in and only harm certain people and no one else. That’s just not possible, although Americans seem to think we can do this because our media never shows the pictures of civilians bleeding from drone attacks. The rest of the world puts them on the front page. It has created a cognitive dissonance in our country in which Americans don’t understand other countries’ reactions to information we never see.

  13. Houndentenor says:

    Yes, but the public is overwhelmingly against this. There should be an impeachment vote if the president bombs after Congress fails to approve the resolution.

  14. Houndentenor says:

    I just read (unconfirmed so take with a grain of salt) that one senators calls about Syria were about 2000 against and 7 for. The public support is not there. If they want us to do this they have to do come up with better reasons than “someone has to do something”. It’s what will be done and who will be doing it that is the problem. Oh, and whether or not it will make any difference. And the lack of foreign support (mostly because they don’t believe us and why should they since the US flat out lied the last time we claimed someone had WMDs and we had to invade them).

  15. Indigo says:

    I expect Congress to go ahead and endorse a military action that Obama will expand to whatever suits his intentions. This reminds me of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, authorizing an action that then turned in to a war that dragged on and on and finally fizzled away, leaving recriminations and angers and hurts that have little chance of healing, even now. It will seal Obama’s administration as just another foolish adventure with inappropriate globalism under the false rubric of “moral imperative” and Obama himself as ultimately ineffectual. What a shame.

  16. Ford Prefect says:

    True. To self-ID as a liberal, it helps to actually be one!

  17. cole3244 says:

    hardly anyone calls themselves liberal anymore and its probably a good thing because few walk the walk it takes to be a liberal, thats one reason we are in the shape we are in now nothing left of center with core values that aren’t compromised by the fear of the liberal label.
    no real opposition no democracy.

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    According to Gallup, Congressional approval ratings for Aug 2013 stood at 1$5 approve, 81% disapprove and 5% don’t worry about it enough to actually form an opinion. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1600/congress-public.aspx

    According to Politico “In the next two months, the most unpopular institution in America will decide the fates of a president’s power, a military strike, defense contracts, the budget, health-care implementation, the Federal Reserve chairmanship, illegal immigrants, and all of us who would be hit by a debt default. It will be bitter,
    ugly, extremely high stakes and in every case wildly unpredictable.”

  19. Ford Prefect says:

    Sadly, I can’t put any faith in congress to do its job. How many times have we seen a contentious vote come down to a narrow victory for the administration after lots of sausage-making? It’s possible we see that here. Or perhaps they wrangle a second vote on another AUMF and it passes after the first one failed. Another midnight vote on something the public hasn’t seen and can’t react to is pretty much SOP these days.

    Additionally, when I watched OBomber’s speech on Saturday I rather saw him as a dictator. He’s decided war is necessary and he’s going to jump in with both feet, no matter what congress does. He has also lied from the outset about his objectives, promising “narrowly focused strikes to punish,” rather than the completely open-ended language he proposed to congress which would allow him to strike Iran… if he “deems it necessary.”

    Remember, we’re just Israel’s proxy in this and AIPAC pretty much controls congress and the WH when it comes to policy in MENA. Previous resolutions have shown congressional support for attacking Iran at roughly 97%. Now maybe that won’t hold up when people are really forced with pulling the proverbial trigger. But maybe it will.

    In the end, this is a major test of loyalty for AIPAC and the War Party more generally. If congress goes the right way and Obama backs down, that would be great. The problem is, the Inner Party has yet to do that on much of anything for the last five years.

  20. nicho says:

    One call from Prince Bandar (aka Bandar Bush) or AIPAC cancels out 250,000 calls from constituents.

  21. Ford Prefect says:

    DiFi’s responses are priceless. They usually boil down to “STFU” or “you don’t know anything, so STFU.”

  22. Ford Prefect says:

    I think it has less to do with ideological labels than tribal loyalty. Just look at MSNBC. They’re trying to inoculate the administration and Democrats more generally by saying, “It’s different this time because Obama.”

    We’re seeing progressives, liberals, conservatives and Tea Party nutjobs on both sides of the fence here. In the end, this is more of a test as to who is most loyal to AIPAC and their tribal leadership than anything else. Barbara Boxer is a progressive liberal (or so she claims sometimes) who is more loyal to the war party than any set of “values” we can determine. She’s wrong, of course, but not because of whatever label she attaches to herself.

  23. Ford Prefect says:

    The missiles are going to fly anyway. Obama said so on Saturday. Romney probably would be doing the exact same thing Obama is doing. It lends the appearance of legitimacy before doing the unthinkable.

  24. Ford Prefect says:

    Also too, if regime change is accomplished, how is the US going to control the chemical weapons stockpiles (not to mention other heavy weaponry) without boots on the ground? In the end, we could see Al Qaeda gaining chemical weapons with our help. The mind boggles.

  25. Ford Prefect says:

    Well, Obama attacked Libya after losing in congress and no calls for impeachment resulted last time. And while the global consequences of this misadventure will be vastly worse, I still wouldn’t expect it, especially since the Senate wouldn’t go along no matter what happens.

    (That’s not to say I’m opposed to the idea. I heartily support it!)

  26. cole3244 says:

    the peoples business is all the things we can’t get accomplished but a war vote is front and center and will always take precedence over the peoples business, i hope that clears up any confusion.

  27. cole3244 says:

    don’t be afraid to use the label liberal it won’t kill you, a liberal would vote no progressives i’m not so sure.

  28. tomtallis says:

    If this bill fails and Obama goes ahead anyway, then look for an impeachment vote in the house.

  29. karmanot says:

    Ain’t that the truth. Boxer always sends backs replies that say she and her staff are working hard and hear our concerns. It always carries a robo signature and usually arrives two months later. Feinstein, when condescending to respond, usually thanks me for my concern,—that’s all. Sometimes if I use an academic title I may get an additional line of vague condescension. They could care less about what we think in non election years and I’m sure don’t even bother to read the missives. They just respond to return addresses. Indeed: “a pisshole in the snow.”

  30. Thom Allen says:

    Too bad I can only up vote you once.

  31. navyvet50 says:

    85% of the American were for universal background checks and with Obama…did not even get a vote…the Republicans do not care about the peoples business…if Mitt were in charge missiles already would be flying.

  32. BeccaM says:

    Funny how there’s always plenty of money for war, but nowadays it’s in extremely short supply for everything else — like jobs programs, unemployment insurance, education, Social Security pensions, health care, science research, infrastructure maintenance, and everything else that doesn’t result in destruction and death.

  33. BeccaM says:

    A generation ago, they used to deny innocent civilians would be killed at all.

    Ten years ago, their solution was to ensure the killed civilians weren’t counted.

    Now they just reclassify civilians as insurgents, combatants, militants, or terrorists, with guilt determined simply by proximity to a target.

  34. Naja pallida says:

    Surgical strikes just means they can later claim they didn’t mean to kill civilians. Even though if even only one missile is fired, there is a 100% chance of civilians being killed.

  35. AnitaMann says:

    How I don’t want to believe this, but you’re probably right. The enemy of my enemy is still an a-hole.

  36. judybrowni says:

    Called all three of my Congresscritters, for all the good that will do.
    Feinstein and Boxer have already had orgasms salivating for a third war.
    Waxman? Can’t tell unless I download a Pdf.

  37. Thom Allen says:

    Every time I try, I get busy signals. So I e-mailed this to my Senators and Representatives. I’ll keep trying to call when I can.

    Please vote AGAINST any legislation that would get the US involved in Syria in ANY way other than participating in an embargo, supplying food and medicine to the Syrian people, applying diplomatic pressure. Vote against any type of military deployment, airstrikes, ground attacks, or any plan that would have US personnel on the ground as armed troops or military advisers.

    There is nothing that we can do militarily to help at this time. Nothing.

    Thank you.

  38. BeccaM says:

    Whenever now I hear one of the TV talking heads or some chickenhawk politician go on about how America’s military can do “surgical strikes” — or whatever the current euphenism is these days (“degrading capabilities”?) — I’m reminded how in my experience that’s been a lie for as long as I’ve been alive (probably longer), starting with Viet Nam. Innocent people will die.

    And whenever they suggest, “Let’s arm the Syrian rebels” — my immediate thought is, “Yeah, sure, because doing the same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s worked out so incredibly well for us.”

    How about some solutions that don’t result in more vengeance-minded, heavily armed enemies afterwards than before we started?

  39. caphillprof says:

    The USA has no business in Syria, particularly when there is unfinished business at home.

  40. perljammer says:

    Proponents of an attack are beating a drum to which not many folks want to march.

    I don’t know anyone personally who supports an attack right now. And that includes a fair number whose main source of news is Fox.

    EDIT: By the way, in the House, more Democrats are against authorization than are for. Still lots of undecideds, though. http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/09/politics/syria-congress-vote-count/house.html?hpt=hp_t1

  41. perljammer says:

    Just what is it you see as “the peoples business” with regard to this issue? “The people” are overwhelmingly opposed to a strike against Syria.

  42. leliorisen says:

    I totally agree. The people have absolutely no power when it comes to foreign policy. The military-industrial complex has infested both parties.

  43. leliorisen says:

    Not party line at all. I am a progressive Democrat who has been against this from the beginning. I do not know of very many, from my part of the party, who support an attack right now.

    The people who ‘want’ this? The military-industrial complex and the war profiteers.

  44. lynchie says:

    Unfortunately they will do what ever the 1% wants. Seems like a good time to take some profit out of the stock market when we bomb it drops. Then come back in when we kill the prerequisite number of Syrians and it is all good. The 1% make some money, the military companies build more bombs, more planes, more missles, more drones. The neocons are happy because we are one stop further in trying to get Iran to do something irrational, Obama can be seen as a protector of Syrians at least the ones he doesn’t kill by dropping bombs and the world is back to a happy place. In October Congress will vote to cut SS and Medicare because of the cost of this little excursion (estimated at $2 Billion a week x 12 weeks = $24 Billion) and the poor and elderly will be asked again to tighten their belts against their spines in “shared sacrifice” pleas from the “jopb creators”.

    A fucking pox on all their houses.

  45. jomicur says:

    Obama has stated clearly he’s going to launch a war no matter what congress does, so why worry about congress? His Highness has made it clear they’re irrelevant, and there’s no reason to think they’re going to stand up to him on this any more than they have on anything else. They have the same campaign donors–and I don’t mean “little people” like us.

  46. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats are constantly moving to the right and this, like chained CPI and NDAA, is another of their attempts to outflank Republicans from the right and not unexpected.

    “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.” http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/obama-considered-moderate-republican-1980s/story?id=17973080

    Confirming for the gazillionth time Gore Vidal’s comment that “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt — until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.” http://ivn.us/editors-blog/2012/08/02/gore-vidal-on-democrats-republicans/

  47. cole3244 says:

    typical party line crap, dems mostly in favor and the gop against not because its the right thing to do but because no votes on obama is sop these days.

    partisan bs trumps doing the peoples business.

  48. nicho says:

    The problem is that in this whole mess, there are no “good guys.” Not in Syria, not in Congress, not in Washington, not overseas. We are up to our asses in “lesser of two (three, four) evils choices. Basically, they will do whatever they end up wanting to do. Our phone calls, emails, petitions, etc. are worth less than a pisshole in the snow to them.

  49. Tony T says:

    If he goes for it anyway that I’m with the tin hat folks and will fall in line for impeachment.

  50. Max_1 says:

    … TRUTH!

  51. voltronforce says:

    This is good news. I contacted my senators and rep and told them my views to please vote no. We don’t need to start WW3 with Russia, Iran, and Syria.

  52. ronbo says:

    Yea! I won’t celebrate until after the NSA has called our Representatives to ask about some of their online and phone activities. It’s easy to manipulate politicians when you’re privy to their every action and thought.

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