Team Obama’s successful Tuesday on the Hill… For members of Congress, this authorization vote could live for years and years… Two questions for Obama as he begins his press conference in Sweden… Today’s activity on Capitol Hill… Hillary backs action in Syria… And Bill Clinton talks health care in Arkansas.
*** Team Obama’s successful day on the Hill: Yes, it’s early. Yes, things can change. And, yes, the American public remains skeptical given all the available poling. But yesterday was a positive day for the Obama administration in its first full day on Capitol Hill selling the use of military force in Syria. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor said they are on board. So did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The influential pro-Israel group AIPAC said it was supporting intervention, as did the Republican Jewish Coalition. And this morning, GOP Reps. Mike Pompeo and Tom Cotton (who is running for the Senate next year) have penned a Washington Post op-ed supporting the authorization of force -- another sign that the conservative hawks are on board. The one tough moment for the administration came when Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to leave open the option that U.S. boots could be on the ground in Syria, but he later walked that back. Yet here is the question to ponder: When, in the Obama Era, has a team consisting of President Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, John McCain, and AIPAC lost a fight over a vote? The answer to that question probably tells you where the winds are blowing at least right now.
*** For members of Congress, this authorization vote could live for years and years: But if you’re a member on the fence, here’s something you’re probably keeping in mind: The authorization vote is going to live -- for years and years. That’s what happened with the Iraq authorization vote in 2002. It didn’t hurt Democrats immediately (after all, John Kerry won the Democratic nomination in ’04 after voting for the authorization). But it came back to bite Democrats -- most notably Hillary Clinton -- in 2007-2008. It’s a reminder that the true consequence of the vote could be in the long term…
*** Two questions for Obama: Just as President Obama begins his press conference in Sweden -- in advance of his G-20 attendance in Russia -- here are two questions we have. One, will a limited airstrike in Syria work? (Will it deter Syria and others from future chemical attacks? Will it not provoke retaliation against Israel and others? And will it not tip the balance of power to the Syrian rebels, with concern that these rebels have ties to al Qaeda?) And two, why has the U.S. tipped its hand to Syria what it plans to do militarily? “President Obama’s decision to delay his planned strike against Syria to seek congressional authorization could make a bombing campaign more difficult and has allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to prepare for an attack, Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified Tuesday,” the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin reports. Indeed, it was a question that NBC’s Brian Williams asked National Security Adviser Susan Rice last night. Rice’s answer: “We have not announced our intentions to the enemy… In making clear for quite a while that this would not be allowed, we weren't telegraphing our intentions. We were making plain that there are standards, there are norms that must be upheld in our collective interests.”
*** Today’s activity on Capitol Hill: At 11:30 am ET, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee marks up the new authorization it drafted last night, and it could vote on it through committee as early as today. As NBCNews.com reported, committee leaders “reached an agreement on a draft resolution to use military force in Syria, setting a 60-day deadline, with one 30-day extension possible for the intervention -- while also barring the involvement of ground forces in the conflict.” Then, at noon ET, Secretary of State Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Also today, Kerry testifies at a classified hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:00 am ET. And Hagel and Dempsey will testify at a classified hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 am ET.
*** Hillary backs action in Syria: There was another politician who came out yesterday in favor of limited strikes in Syria: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Secretary Clinton supports the president's effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime's horrific use of chemical weapons,” a senior Hillary aide said, per NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. So just after one of us wrote how potential 2016ers serving in Congress are in the spotlight (like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio) unlike those who aren’t serving (Hillary, Chris Christie, Scott Walker), Hillary Clinton -- through a spokesman -- came out in support of action in Syria.
*** Bill Clinton talks health care in Arkansas: And speaking of the Clintons, former President Bill Clinton today delivers his remarks selling the health-care law at 11:00 am ET from the Clinton Library in Little Rock, AR. According to the Obama White House, Clinton’s speech is the first in a number of high-profile events the administration and its allies plan to do before Oct. 1, when enrollment in the health-care exchanges begins. This Clinton speech, of course, was scheduled BEFORE the administration turned to Congress to authorize a strike against Syria. And it’s a reminder that everything we thought we knew about the fall debates -- over health care, the budget, the debt ceiling -- could be upended by the Syria debate. Also, don’t be surprised if Clinton somehow gets a do-over in selling health care. Meanwhile, the RNC has set up a website highlighting Obamacare’s costs.