Top Obama administration officials appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday to make the case for military action in Syria, hours after President Barack Obama won the support of key House Republicans. Washington Bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
Secretary of State John Kerry said President Barack Obama's mission in Syria is clear.
"President Obama is not asking America to go to war," Kerry said. "He is asking only for the power to make clear, to make certain that the United States means what we say."
Kerry appeared alongside Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top military leaders Tuesday to lay out why the president must take military action.
The Obama administration says there's clear evidence that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.
The hearing was punctuated by protesters opposed to military conflict.
Kerry said the goal was not to got involved in Syria's civil war, but to send a message to Assad, and dictators around the world, that chemical weapons are unacceptable.
"If we don't respond, we're going to be back here asking you to respond to some greater confrontation with greater potential for damage and danger," he said.
The administration says military action would be limited, both in duration and scope. Kerry, however, did have to backtrack after he he appeared, at one point, to leave the door open to troops on the ground.
"Let me be very clear now, 'cause I don't want anything to come out of this hearing that leaves any door open to any possibility," he said. "So let's shut that door now as tight as we can."
The president's chances in the Senate appear good. The House, however, is another story, where some members, both Republican and Democrat, remain skeptical.
The president, however, did win over two critical House Republicans Tuesday, when House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said they support the president's call for action.
"This is something the United States as a country needs to do," Boehner said.
Kerry will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its own hearing.