Boehner Says Getting Votes on Syria Is Up to Obama

Lawmakers say it's up to White House to get votes for Syria.

President Barack Obama meets with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, in the cabinet room of the White House on September 3, 2013.

President Barack Obama meets with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, in the cabinet room of the White House on September 3, 2013.

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The speaker of the House and the top House Democrat announced Tuesday they supported the president's plan to strike Syria, but don't expect members of their respective caucuses to blindly follow their lead.

[READ: John Kerry, Chuck Hagel Pitch Syrian Strike to Congress]

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and a host of other key congressional leaders met at the White House Tuesday morning to discuss action. They emerged from the meeting convinced Congress should vote in support of a resolution to strike Syria and retaliate against President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people.

 

But unlike contentious issues like immigration reform or other matters typically before the House, Republican leaders say they are approaching Syria with a less tactical approach, leaving the hard vote counting to the White House.

"Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement. "I hope he is successful in that endeavor."

[PHOTOS: Violence in Syria ]

Pelosi also suggested Tuesday that getting the votes would be up to Obama.

"It's not a question of whipping, it's a question of discussing," she told reporters as she departed from her White House briefing.

The administration has signaled it's willing to work with members on Capitol Hill, but it's uncharted territory for a president who has gained a reputation of being absent from Congress. Considering the vote is less than one week away, the White House has a long way to go to convince members of both sides of the aisle to back a resolution to strike Syria.

Many Republicans and Democrats are still unconvinced that U.S. interests are at stake, nor are they assured that U.S. intervention would help stabilize the region.

"Pres Obama hasn't come close to justifying war in #Syria," Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted over the weekend.

[OPINION: Before Obama Shoots, He Scores ]

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., argued that he couldn't trust the Obama administration and its intelligence on Syria because he still feared he'd been lied to about the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012.

Pouring out of a classified briefing Sunday, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, both told reporters they were "leaning no."

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., engaged in a disagreement with Secretary of State John Kerry during a conference Monday, arguing the administration hadn't provided enough evidence that chemical weapons were deployed by Assad's regime.

Even Democratic leaders have been critical of the Obama administration's drafted resolution for action. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., wants to narrow the White House's resolution to explicitly outline a policy against putting boots on the ground. He also wants to ensure that the strikes stop if the Assad regime halts the use of chemical weapons.

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