Undecided Dems Key to Syria Decision

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Democratic lawmakers are confronting an unpleasant reality: It will be up to them to support military strikes in Syria if they want to save President Barack Obama from a dramatic defeat in Congress.

Take Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat who doesn’t yet know how she’ll vote on the measure. Gabbard worries about the unintended consequences of a strike in the Middle Eastern nation, which is riven by a complex civil war.

“If this authorization is approved and this limited strike occurs as the president has presented, there are a number of things outside of our control that could occur, which could potentially further obligate us into something within Syria and the region,” Gabbard told POLITICO Friday morning after leaving a classified briefing.

If Obama hopes for victory in Congress, he must gain the support of undecided Democrats like Gabbard, who served in the military in Iraq and remains active in the National Guard. Democrats are expected to shoulder a Senate vote, if it’s successful. Few rank-and-file Democrats have taken the step of publicly expressing their support for Obama and his Syria mission, even though Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicts the legislation will ultimately pass the Senate.

And the House simply cannot pass — at this time — a use-of-force measure without support from the vast majority of the House Democratic Caucus. A vote in the House is expected in the “next two weeks,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote in a memo to colleagues Friday.

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