Will Congress Support Military Action In Syria? A ThinkProgress Whip Count [UPDATED]
BY IGOR VOLSKY, JUDD LEGUM AND REBECCA LEBER ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 AT 7:07 PM
Updated: September 6, 9:00 AM
As members of Congress consider President Obama’s request to authorize military force in Syria, following evidence that President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons killed over 1,400 people, a ThinkProgress analysis of the public statements of 413 Representatives found that 223 lawmakers have either decisively ruled out supporting the measure or say they are unlikely to back it. Just 39 of the 413 members of the House of Representatives said they will definitely or likely vote in favor or the resolution.
A vote in the House is not expected until next week at the earliest. 151 members have publicly said they are undecided and the positions of 20 members are unknown. All told, 324 members either have not decided, or indicated they are willing to consider changing their position.
Republicans were far more likely to oppose military action in Syria, while Democrats were more likely to support it. The numbers are a contrast to 2002, when Democrats in the House provided “the bulk of the opposition” to President George W. Bush’s Iraq war resolution — though a majority of Democrats (61 percent) still backed war. Only six House Republicans voted against the Iraq war in 2002.
Lawmakers in support of military action argued that the United States has a “moral imperative” to deter Assad from further use of chemical weapons and maintained that military consequences would deter bad actors like Iran and North Korea from using similar tactics in the future. Conversely, opponents of the resolution maintained that the nation could scarcely afford getting entangled in another conflict in the Middle East, following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and questioned whether or not limited action would be effective in deterring Assad or lead to greater American military involvement. No lawmaker supported putting American boots on the ground in Syria.