Obama lobbies US lawmakers on Syria strike

Washington, Sep 6 (IANS) Even as he tries to drum up international support for a punitive military strike against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, President Barack Obama is finding it tough to get support among US lawmakers, according to media reports.

The president, who is in St. Petersburg, Russia, to attend the G-20 summit facing "hardening barriers in Congress" carved out time "to call key US lawmakers, including five calls to Democratic and Republican senators," the Washington Post reported.

The White House lobbying effort has included direct conversations between Obama or top administration officials and at least 60 senators and at least 125 House members as of Thursday, the paper said citing a White House official.

Late Thursday afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden and Antony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser, briefed a bipartisan group of House and Senate members in the White House Situation Room, it said citing an administration official said.

The Post said White House has detailed an extensive outreach to lawmakers that is being coordinated by aides in Washington, as well as by national security adviser Susan E. Rice and a key deputy, Benjamin J. Rhodes, who are travelling with Obama in Russia.

Still both Republican critics and Democratic lawmakers "have voiced deep reservations or flat opposition to his proposal to intervene militarily in a predominantly Muslim nation after a decade of war overseas," the Post said.

Politico, an influential Washington news site, went to the extent of saying that "if the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, Obama would lose - and lose big."

That's the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process, it said.

"If the Senate passes a use-of-force resolution next week - which is no sure thing - the current dynamics suggest that the House would defeat it," the Politico predicted.

"That would represent a dramatic failure for Obama, and once again prove that his sway over Congress is extraordinarily limited," it said.

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