There’s no doubt that this is the kind of news the president has been waiting for. Yes, he may still act unilaterally in Syria if and when he decides that’s the proper course of action. But even after concluding that he doesn’t need congressional approval to carry out drone strikes against the Assad regime, it doesn’t hurt to have political cover, either:
Just in: Aide says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confident he has votes to pass #Syria resolution— WSJ Washington Wire (@WSJwashington) September 3, 2013
And yet at the same time the Executive would be wise to take this report with a healthy grain of salt. As Guy wrote about at length earlier, any behind-closed-doors promise from members of Congress that they will vote ‘aye’ on the question of military intervention in Syria is highly suspect. Why? Because the impending debate in Washington next week will almost certainly reshape and recalibrate their positions. Meanwhile, most Americans are war-weary and see no tangible benefits of intervening in another costly and unwinnable war. And with election season rapidly approaching, members of Congress aren’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of voting for a resolution many of their constituents oppose.
What’s clear, however, is that if Congress does abandon the president -- and he’s left prosecuting this unpopular war by himself -- the political fallout for him could be catastrophic.