WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s call for a military strike in Syria won significant momentum Tuesday, with leaders of both parties in Congress saying they are convinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people and that the United States should respond.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, said taking action is something “the United States as a country needs to do.”
Boehner emerged from a White House meeting with Obama and other top lawmakers and said only the U.S. has the capability to stop Assad and warn others around the world that such actions will not be tolerated.
Obama urged Congress to hold a prompt vote once it returns from holiday next week.
The president also tried to assure the public that involvement in Syria will be a “limited, proportional step.”
“This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan,” Obama said.
Boehner’s support is key, but opposition Republicans in Congress do not speak with one voice.
And after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, polls show most Americans opposed to any new military action overseas.
Some lawmakers say Obama still hasn’t presented good evidence that Assad’s forces were responsible for the Aug. 21 attack. Others say he hasn’t explained why intervening is in America’s interest.
Those questions come a decade after the Bush administration badly misrepresented the case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.