On Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he was delaying a key procedural vote on the resolution authorizing military action against Syria. Reid had returned to Washington on Friday to begin Senate proceedings on the proposal, with the likelihood that the first vote would take place on Wednesday, the 12-year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Reid’s move to delay the vote is a clear sign he didn’t have the votes to pass the authorization for military action.
“I want to make sure the president (makes) his case to the Senate and the American people before voting on this matter,” Reid said.
Two days ago, Reid expressed confidence that he would be able to secure the 60 votes needed to authorize military action. Since then, the White House has embarked on a full-court press in support of the military strike. The White House Chief of Staff went on all 5 Sunday talk shows, the President sat down with 6 TV networks for interviews and Secretary of State John Kerry held a widely seen press-conference in London. In spite of these actions, support for military action in Syria seems to be fading.
If Harry Reid were confident he had the votes to pass the authorization, he would schedule a vote. He clearly doesn’t have the votes, in spite of the fact that Obama’s party controls the chamber. The prospects of a military authorization passing the House are even less certain.
The House, controlled by the Republicans, will always present a challenge to Obama. That the Senate, where is party holds a 10-seat edge, is balking at his proposal should provide a wake-up call for the White House.
The media will no doubt find some way to spin whatever happens on Syria as a win for Barack Obama. The truth, though, is that he no longer has any pull on the Hill. His lame-duck presidency began Monday night.