Following call with White House, lawmakers signal tepid approval for strike against Syria

Friday, August 30, 2013
By Paul Martin

AUGUST 30, 2013

Congressional leaders Thursday night appeared ready to back at least a limited U.S. military strike on the Syrian government following a private telephone briefing with White House officials.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and National Security Advisor Susan Rice as well as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were among the White House officials on the 90 minute call, which did not include President Obama and, due to security concerns, excluded discussions of classified material.

While classified information was lacking, lawmakers said they were assured there is solid evidence that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was behind an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack against its own people and that the United States should take action to stop its further use.

“Tonight’s briefing reaffirmed for me that a decisive and consequential U.S. response is justified and warranted to protect Syrians, as well as to send a global message that chemical weapons attacks in violation of international law will not stand,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said following the call.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the panel, agreed but added that Obama should seek Congressional authorization first.

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