The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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September 4, 2013

Syria: President today says credibility of Congress - not his - is on the line

(Continued)

"The administration's Syria policy doesn't build confidence," Royce said in his prepared remarks.

The audience at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing included several people wearing signs opposing U.S. action against Syria and who had colored the palms of their hands red.

House Speaker John Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House and declared that the U.S. has "enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it's necessary."

Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, also backed action. But he acknowledged the split positions among both parties and said it was up to Obama to "make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action."

Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, made that argument before the House Foreign Affairs panel. They and other senior administration officials also provided classified briefings to the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees.

In prepared testimony for the House committee, Kerry told lawmakers that "the world is watching not just to see what we decide. It is watching to see how we make this decision — whether in this dangerous world we can still make our government speak with one voice." Hagel, in his prepared text, seconded Obama's warnings about the potential scope of danger from failing to uphold international standards, saying "a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of America's other security commitments — including the president's commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

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