September 4, 2013


Now, the Congressional nose-counting begins: Who’s for the resolution to attack Syria, who’s against, who’s undecided, and who is calling their chief of staff asking, “Why’s all this about Syria? Where the hell *is* Syria? Those are mostly U.S. Senators. Problem is, there is no resolution to be for or against.

Now, the Congressional nose-counting begins: Who’s for the resolution to attack Syria, who’s against, who’s undecided, and who is calling their chief of staff asking, “Why’s all this about Syria? Where the hell is Syria?

Those are mostly U.S. Senators.

Problem is, there is no resolution to be for or against.

The White House sent one up to the Hill on Sunday a couple of hours after the President’s staff found out he was going to ask for Congressional approval, but was being told in home room that a social studies paper was due by third period. Put something on paper and hope the teacher is in a good mood.

The actionable part of the draft resolutions reads:

"The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria …”

That doesn’t have any chance of passing but no one, including the White House lawyers, thought it would.

The Senate is leading this parade because Senators, by dint of being elected to six-year terms, are supposed to think about what is best for the nation. Last night the Associated Press was reporting that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had agreed on Resolution language that “would limit the duration of any U.S. military action in response to the Syrian government’s suspected use of chemical weapons on its people. It also would specifically bar U.S. ground troops from Syria.”

Both the committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and the senior Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) agreed to the language which was not available as I was typing this.

Reporters John Bresnahan and Manu Raju reported in that the resolution “sets a 60-day deadline, with one 30-day extension possible.”

As of last night it was assumed that the barring of U.S. ground troops did not include CIA or special forces personnel.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will likely vote on the resolution today (Wednesday) so it can go to the floor when the Senate reconvenes next Monday.

As the day moved on, yesterday, the Congressional agreement pendulum swung from “no way” to “maybe” to “possibly.” By this time tomorrow it might well be “probably.”

In the House, both Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) met with President Barack Obama on Tuesday following which they announced they will approve military action against Syria.

The Huffington Post said Cantor said that the U.S. has a compelling national security interest to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues calling on them, according to the National Journal, “to approve action to respond to ‘the Syrian government’s unspeakable use of chemical weapons.’”

Boehner, Cantor and Pelosi all agree which reminds me of the famous Woody Allen line:

“The lion will lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”

If the Republican and Democratic House leaders all agree, passage should be a mortal lock in the House, right?

Not so fast. As CNN reported:

“Opposition comes from across the political spectrum, with liberal Democrats and libertarian tea party Republicans in rare unity against what they call an unnecessary U.S. foreign intervention.”

When a resolution comes to the House floor for a vote, pundits are claiming that the “Hastert Rule” will apply. Most of them believe that the “Hastert Rule” means no bill (or resolution) can come to the floor without enough Republican votes to pass it.

Speaker Dennis Hastert never said that. What he said was there had to be a “majority of the majority.”

In this case the majority are the Republicans. There are 234 of them. A majority of the majority would be 50 percent of 234 plus one or 118 votes.

There are 435 voting Members of the House. A majority is 218 (assuming all seats are filled and all Members vote.)

Thus, if 118 Republicans vote for the Resolution, then Nancy Pelosi has to deliver 100 Democrats to guarantee the 218 vote lock.

Will that happen?

We’ll see, as we go through the week and the weekend what the resolve of the House Members and Senators are.

To my Jewish friends, Happy New Year. May 5773 find you, and everyone you know and care for Jewish or not, happy, healthy, and at peace.

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