Live blogging the Syria hearing [UPDATED and Fixed]

Featured image I’m waiting for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to begin its hearing on Syria. In the meantime, Nancy Pelosi is holding forth on CSPAN. She denies that she will “whip” House Democrats on the Syria vote; she says she’s merely going to “discuss” the matter with her caucus. In other words, she will “whip” them. I hope she has more success whipping her members than she had whipping her five-year-old »

Why did Obama go to Congress? [UPDATED]

Featured image Theories abound as to why President Obama put to Congress the question of military intervention in Syria. One theory is that Obama decided he didn’t really to want to intervene militarily and hopes Congress will bail him out. Another is that he wants to be able to shift blame to Congress if intervention doesn’t turn out well. A third theory is that Obama wanted to buy time in order, perhaps, »

The raised stakes in the debate over bombing Syria

Featured image In a sense, there is less than meets the eye to the debate over whether President Obama should take military action against Syria. Obama has made it clear that he does not intend to commit ground troops in Syria and that the air attack he contemplates is “limited.” Thus, there is very little risk associated with the kind of action Obama wants to take. But by the same token, there »

Who will make Obama’s case for attacking Syria?

Featured image Jonathan Strong at NRO questions whether the House will authorize a strike against Syria. He finds it unlikely that Speaker Boehner will “whip” support for authorization; nor should Boehner do so. As Strong notes, this is a “conscience” vote, and members shouldn’t be pressured to vote one way or the other. Members of Congress tend to be influenced by the views of their constituents. Attacking Syria isn’t a terribly popular »

Obama seeks congressional authorization to strike Syria [Updated]

Featured image President Obama surprised me today by announcing that he is asking Congress to authorize an attack on Syria. Going to Congress on this matter is the right thing to do, even if one believes — as Obama says he does — that he has the power to strike without congressional approval. By going to Congress, Obama pushes back the time table for a strike. He claimed, however, that the military »

House of Commons rejects intervention in Syria; where does Congress stand?

Featured image The British House of Commons today defeated a motion by the government to take military action against Syria “if necessary.” The motion was watered down to provide for another vote, pending findings by the U.N., before Britain would take part in direct military action. It still failed by a vote of 285-272. This result is a major embarrassment of British Prime Minister David Cameron. He, after all, has played a »

Avoiding the “comprehensiveness” trap

Featured image Yesterday, I argued that public consensus exists regarding the two major non-budgetary legislative issues of the day, immigration and guns. I added, however, that political consensus may be thwarted due to the use of “comprehensive” legislation to address these issues. This raises the question of why Congress should tackle issues “comprehensively.” As a friend — a high-level congressional staffer and experienced Washington hand — recently wrote to me: Nothing good »