Sgt. Aaron Hostutler / U.S. Marine Corps / Department of Defense
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel consults with senior members of Congress on the recent chemical attack in Syria. Secretary Hagel participated in the call in the early hours of the morning from Manila, Philippines, where he is wrapping up a week-long trip to visit allies and partners in Southeast Asia.
Lawmakers from both parties on Thursday evening said President Barack Obama had more work to do to sell a skeptical Congress and war-weary American public on the wisdom of U.S.
military intervention in Syria.
Following a 90-minute briefing for lawmakers featuring top administration brass, members of Congress said the president still must build political support for military strikes against Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and his government.
“It’s a very tough situation with no good options," said Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s up to the president to sell this to the American people.”
He added, “[Americans] They’re very war-weary .. there are problems if we take action, there are problems if we don’t take action."
The White House said in a statement characterizing the briefing: "The views of Congress are important to the president’s decision-making process, and we will continue to engage with members as the president reaches a decision on the appropriate U.S. response to the Syrian government’s violation of international norms against the use of chemical weapons."
Top Democrats came away from the briefing generally supportive of American military action against Syria, though a significant number of other Democrats have joined with GOP colleagues to demand a vote in Congress before the president takes any action.