Congress Relieved to Take 'Pause' on Syria

Members happy to see Obama re-evaluating options in Syria.


"Who knows this may well be a ploy to create confusion," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., shown here conferring with the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said of the Syria diplomatic proposal that President Obama spoke on Tuesday night.

By + More

President Barack Obama urged members of Congress to "push pause" Tuesday on a plan to rush a resolution to strike Syria, but many were already dragging their feet.

[READ: Obama Asks for Trust, Delayed Vote on Syria]

It's an opportunity for a collective deep breath after a frantic week where Republicans and Democrats alike publicly grappled with the momentous decision to vote 'yes' for action at the request of the commander in chief, or vote 'no' in answer to the pleas of their interventionist- wary constituents.

Those opposed to the conflict argued while the president might have called Congress to take a timeout, there wasn't another option for the White House.

"Some of us are concerned about getting involved in a Syrian civil war that is bloody and complicated," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. "The American people are speaking loudly about it. Every once in awhile democracy actually works, not very often around here, but the Congress is hearing their message. The president didn't have the votes."

Obama pitched it differently during his public address Tuesday night. The president made the case that he wanted to pursue a diplomatic option that had nearly escaped his grasp. The one he hatched during a brief encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

[PHOTOS: Alleged Gas Attack Kills Hundreds in Syria ]

Under the tentative agreement, Syria would hand over its chemical weapons to the international community to avoid U.S intervention in the region.

Tuesday, members of Congress nervously embraced the option to avoid another entanglement in the Middle East, but they continued to recognize that Russia is a less-than-reliable ally.

"Let's see if there is any credibility. Who knows this may well be a ploy to create confusion and stall off actions here," says Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

And those who had supported a strike before Russia and Syria struck a deal, were not running from their position.

"We need to keep up the pressure so people know that Syria is going to be on the hook for getting rid of these weapons," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Tuesday. "Clearly if this all falls apart we cannot forget what has happened here."

As they emerged from their nearly hour-long meeting with the president Tuesday afternoon, senators said the president had urged them to continue laying on the pressure as a tactical maneuver to keep Russia and Syria at the negotiating table.

"If we don't keep that threat open, they may very well walk away," says Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.

[ALSO: Congress Returns From Recess With Syria in Spotlight ]

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,, said if it were not for the heightened pressure members of Congress were pushing on Syria last week, the diplomatic option would not have even been on the table.

"I believe Congress can best support the goal of a diplomatic solution by approving a resolution that authorizes the use of force if Syria refuses to give up its chemical weapons," Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement.

More News: