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Washington Beat: Lawmakers Still Weighing Syria Course Of Action

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TWC News: Washington Beat: Lawmakers Still Weighing Syria Course Of Action
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Lawmakers met behind closed doors Thursday for top secret briefings on the situation in Syria, though many emerged no closer to a decision. NY1's Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the administration tried Thursday to win support for a strike on Syria, it found itself losing an important Republican vote.

Congressman Michael Grimm, who had come out early in favor of military action against the Assad regime, announced he was changing his mind and preparing to vote no.

In a statement, Grimm explained his flip-flop by blaming the president, saying, "As debate has dragged on in Congress, the President has weakened his position as our leader and deteriorated our credibility on the world stage."

Grimm also said his constituents were opposed to another military conflict. The news came on the same day groups of lawmakers emerged from closed door meetings, still not prepared to support military action in the Middle East.

"I have not made up my mind. There's still information to be gathered. I still have some concerns," said Congressman Gregory Meeks.

Lawmakers from both parties say they have deep reservations, worried that a military strike will drag the U.S. into the unknown, without the backing of an international coalition.

"Is like a school yard bully where they go say, 'You go hit him, while we hold your coat and get lemonade' or are they going to put on boxing gloves and be involved in this as well?" said Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

There's also the issue of support at home. Americans remain opposed to a military campaign. And Democrats are struggling to balance the president's agenda with the wishes of their constituents.

"The people in the district that I represent overwhelmingly have communicated to me that they do not want to see us engaged in another Middle Eastern conflict. There are domestic issues that are still unresolved, there are resources that could possibly be diverted," said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.

The president may now have to move from persuading lawmakers to talking directly to the public, as his efforts to win over Congress appear to be in trouble.

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