Kerry Presses International 'Red Line' in House Hearings

Sec'y of State says humanity, not President Obama, set the line on taking military action in Syria.
3:00 | 09/04/13

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Transcript for Kerry Presses International 'Red Line' in House Hearings
This is a special group. Report from ABC news. When I'm -- -- in New York -- -- CBC news digital special report the white house on the hill again today secretary of state John Kerry -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meeting. With -- house foreign relations subcommittee yesterday. They met with their senate counterparts making the case for a strike on Syria. I want to bring -- ABC's -- -- to break -- politics on the hill as this story is getting more intense by the day and Jeff. I -- start off with the president today who is in Sweden ahead of the G-20 summits that'll be taking place in Russia he spoke though. About the Red Line that defining -- of semantics that has been talked about lately and I want to listen -- -- -- I considerably more. The world -- -- -- The world said a red line when. Governments representing 98% of the world's population said. The use of chemical weapons are -- My credibility is not on the line. The international -- and his credibility is on the line. And America and congress is credible is on the line. Because what we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important. -- -- I want to ask you about that the president is seems as if somewhat distancing himself for having total culpability on this and and and really encompassing and other. Units congress the international community. At large how was economic plan Capitol Hill. I would say he's trying to distance. The southeast part right in that that. -- it's not only his responsibility but certainly it's his responsibility he is the one after -- -- the use those two words red line. But look at me I think the bigger picture here is that take even if he hadn't said that Syria. Has the Red Line and if they cross if there will be. Punishment. Still. What has happened a chemical attacks in Syria were probably enough towards some type of intervention even if he hadn't said that. It's it would probably still be in this position that the president I thought in his speech was trying to. You know spread the responsibility and perhaps the blame around a little bit here but. His words are really not having that much of an effect on Capitol Hill. What the house and senator really trying to do -- listened to the -- secretary of state John Terry Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. And their aides and -- -- answering questions in classified and unclassified forms so it's not the rhetoric of the president they're trying to get information to make their decisions. And of course yesterday as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today the house foreign affairs committee -- -- -- if you're hearing is just about to get under way with the secretary of -- -- Kerry. At the table there and we can see. Hand raised in the background from members of code pink peace activist organization that's right also appeared yesterday. So just let me ask you this because I know we're trying to get -- head -- for how congress is going on this what do we know -- What we know now is that undervotes are still not there there are many many. Undecided members in the house star. Our. Scores are certainly several dozen. -- dozens of undecided members which isn't that surprising I mean. Briefings are still underway most members would not say yes or no without you know hearing this information. At these classified briefings but the sense right now is that that things are moving steadily in the White House's direction in the senate at least but the house is a much harder -- -- -- here if you have that strain of libertarian. Largely Republicans and the Liberal Democrats who are strongly opposed to this. And there aren't as many people in the middle but one thing we're watching closely today. Dan is Senator John McCain he strongly supports military action in Syria -- attack he right now at this hour is opposed in -- specific language. In the resolution he thinks it doesn't go far enough so there is still. I'm a lot of work and he's -- behind the scenes before the scheming to get ready for a vote and so John McCain -- needs to be mollified a little bit here and he thinks that. The current resolution is too limited here so it's still difficult sledding -- -- and all week this week to work out this. These deals before the votes -- next week -- both. Between the house and the senate -- an ABC jets on a -- -- -- to -- so you can follow the committee hearing that is under way and let us. Did manage chairman Ed Royce is making some opening statements. Obama isn't aiming to change the situation on the ground. What are the chances of escalation. Are different scenarios accounted for. If our credibility is on the line now as is argued. What about if a -- retaliate it's Americans are skeptical of getting near a conflict that is one witnesses noted. Is fueled by historic. Ethnic religious and tribal issues. The administration's Syria policy. Doesn't build confidence. For over two years US policy has been a draft. Initially the a -- administration saw a -- as a reformer. Once the revolts started it backed UN diplomacy. And then it bet on a Moscow policy. And the thought that Russia would play a constructive role. Predictably that has not worked. Over a year ago President Obama drew in his words a red line. Yet only last week did the administration began to consult with congress on what that means. Today the house begins formal consideration. Of the president's request to use military force in Syria. It is a cliche but true. There are no easy answers. Syria and much of the Middle East are a mess. So we look forward to a thorough and deliberate discussion -- day one. Reflecting the gravity of the issue and all now turn to ranking member angle. Who has been ringing the alarm bill on Syria for a long long time. Ranking member angle from New York. Thank you thank you very much mr. chairman thank you for holding this hearing today hearing today. Secretary -- welcome. I a look forward to this hearing which addresses the Syrian regime's. Use of chemical weapons a serious threat to the national security interest of the United States. And our allies. Many of you know that I have been -- in the Middle East for many years. But in particular. I spent an enormous amount of time on Syria. The Syria accountability act of 2003. Which I authored is the landmarks -- of American policy toward Syria. And impose sanctions on Damascus in large part due to its chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In march of this year introduced a bipartisan bill. That would authorize the president -- fully vetted members of the moderate Syrian opposition. So when I talk about Syria I'm speaking from years of experience hours of hearings and scores of meetings with the US and foreign officials. Mr. chairman we've all seen the images of -- lifeless bodies of Syrian men women and children. At least 400 children. Neatly lined up and rose wrapped in white sheets. Their bodies appear to have no outward physical injuries. Entire families killed in their homes in the blink of -- nine. Our intelligence agencies of assessment high confidence. That these innocent civilians. Were killed by Sarin gas a deadly nerve agent classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN Security Council. An outlawed by the chemical weapons convention of 1993. They have also concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the -- regime is responsible. For the use of these horrific weapons. I strongly agree with President Obama that the United States must respond to his flagrant violation of international law. With a limited military strike to deter the further use of chemical weapons and degrade the aside regime's ability to use them again. But the issue we confront today is much bigger in the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We are talking about the credibility of America as a global power. We're talking about sending a clear message to the -- is in Tehran and Pyongyang. They'll be serious consequences. For flouting the will of the international community. And that the US -- its words of action. Iran in particular is watching very carefully. To see if the United States is willing to stand efforts by religious in the region and the interest of our allies. They are essential player in the Syrian civil war providing weapons money advice and manpower to the Asad regime. And supporting the intervention of the terrorist proxy -- -- -- And according to the IAEA the M there are moving full speed ahead with efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. I believe that congress must authorize the commander in chief to use limited military force against the -- regime. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting such an authorization. But we should not give the president a blank check. The author -- authorization measure we take up. Must clarify that any strike should be of a limited nature and that there should absolutely be no American boots on the ground in Syria. While it is critically important for the US to hold -- aside regime accountable. For the use of chemical weapons we must also focus on developing a larger strategy. To address the ongoing humanitarian crisis support our regional partners. And ultimately find a path forward that brings a lasting peace to the Syrian people. As I mentioned earlier in March I introduced the bipartisan free Syria act legislation that would increase humanitarian aid. And authorize the president to provide lethal and nonlethal assistance to serious moderate opposition. I continue to believe that the moderate opposition is key to Syria's future. And that we must redouble our efforts to support them as soon as possible. I -- many members on both sides sides of the aisle are struggling with this issue of using force in Syria. We're all trying to do the right thing for our constituents. For our country and for our national security. Questions of war and peace are always difficult and I'm proud that we are treating them with the utmost seriousness in this committee. But in the days before we take any vote I encourage my colleagues to ask themselves these questions. If we do not pass the authorization measure. What message -- aside yet. What message will Iran receive. Hezbollah. Our allies. We have to live up to our commitments. To mr. chairman I'd like to thank you for calling this important hearing and look forward to secretary Kerry -- testimony of our other distinguished witnesses. Thank you mr. angle this afternoon were pleased to be joined by our secretary of state John Kerry. And shortly we will be joined by the secretary defense. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Prior to his appointment John Kerry served as United States senator from Massachusetts for 28 years. And chaired the senate foreign relations committee for the last four years. And without objection. The witnesses. Statements Senator Kerry and those of us secretary -- -- And general Dempsey. Will be made part of the record members here will have five days to submit statements and questions and extraneous material for the record. And I'd I'd like to note members that we have a nearly full committee here with us today. And therefore we need to work within the time constraints that we have we're gonna ask all members be mindful. Of that timer as you ask questions so we will begin now. With the secretary Carey's testimony mr. secretary. Mr. chairman thank you very much. Ranking member angle. As the chairman said an early. Congressional leader and Syria and all the members of the committee. -- just say first of all that have enormous respect for the fact that everybody has returned. Unexpectedly. And hurriedly to come back here to be part of this debate. And on that for the administration and the American people. I thank you for. Doing so. I think it's. I I don't think I know it's no exaggeration to say that. The world is. Not just watching to see what we decide here. But the world is really watching to see how we decide. Frankly whether or not we can still make achieve. A single voice speaking for the United States of America the congress and the president of the United States. And they want to know whether or not America's gonna rise to this moment. Whether or not we will. Express our position with the unity that this moment demands. The question of whether or not to authorize force side the chairman referenced by 28 years here. I had a number of occasions. To. Make those votes and another number of occasions to make judgments about presidents who acted without coming to congress. And I found that we were and are always stronger. When we -- act together. First and foremost. I think it's important to explain to the American people why we are here. And I don't think you can bear enough repetition. As people grapple with -- us. At the end of summer post Labor Day kids going back to school and a lot of other. Concerns on their mind. We're here. Because against the multiple warnings from the president the United States. Warnings from congress for many of you. Warnings from friends and allies. And even. Warnings from Russia and around. The chemical weapons are out of bounds. Against all of that the Assad regime. And only undeniably the Assad regime. Unleashed an outrageous chemical attack against its own citizens. -- here because a dictator. And his family's enterprise. Which is what it is. We're willing to in fact there are Damascus with a poison that killed innocent mothers and fathers. And children. Their lives all snuffed out by gas during the early morning hours of August 21. Now some people in a few places amazingly. Against all the evidence -- questioned. Whether or not this assault on conscience actually took place. And I repeat again here today. Unequivocally. Only the most willful desire to avoid reality. Only the most devious political. Purpose. Could assert that this did not occur. As described. Or that the regime did not do it. It did happen. And the Bashar Al Assad regime did it. -- I remember Iraq. Secretary Cagle who will soon be here. General Dempsey obviously also remember. Very well -- -- -- -- and I both voted in the United States senate. And so both of us are especially sensitive. To never again asking any member of congress to vote. On faulty intelligence. That is why our intelligence community took time. That's why the president took time. To make certain of the facts and make certain of this case. And to declassify. Unprecedented amounts of information. In order to scrub and -- scrub the evidence. And present the facts to the American people especially. To the congress. Through you to the American people. We have declassified unprecedented amounts of information some of that I might add but not because. Initially that might have been the instinctive that in sense of protecting sources and methods but some leaked. And after its -- we thought it was important to verify. Whether it was true or not. So by now you've heard a great deal for me and others in the administration about the comprehensive. Evidence that we have collected. In the days following the attack on August 21 so I'm not gonna go through all of it again right now. I'm happy to discuss it further if any of you have any questions that I can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt. And I used to prosecute cases. I've Graham one of the largest district attorney's offices in America. And I can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence proves that the outside regime prepared this attack. And that they attacked exclusively. Opposition controlled or contested. Territory. Some point in the appropriate setting. You'll learn additional evidence which came to us even today. Which further documents. The acknowledgment of various friends of the Assad regime. That they know. That this happened. Our evidence proves that they used Sarin gas that morning and it proves that they use some of the world's most heinous weapons. To kill more than 14100 innocent people including at least 426. Children. Now I'm sure that many -- -- seeing the images yourselves of men and women the elderly and children sprawled on a hospital floor. No wounds no blood. And chaos and desperation around them none of which could possibly have been contrived. All of that was real. We have the evidence we know what happened. And there is no question. That this would meet the standard by which we send people to jail for the rest of their lives. So we're here because what happened but we're also here. Not just because of what happened two weeks ago we're here because what happened. Nearly a century ago. When in the darkest moments of World War I when they were over. After the horror of gas warfare when the majority of the world came together. To declare in no uncertain terms that chemical weapons crossed a line of conscience. And that they must be banned. Over the years that followed. More than 180 countries I think it's a 184 to be precise. Including Iran Iraq and Russia. All agreed and joined -- chemical weapons convention. Even countries with whom we agree on very little else. Agreed on this. Now some have tried to suggest that the debate that were having today. Is about this president's red line that this is about president Obama's red line. Let me make it is clear as I -- all of you. That is just not true. This is about the world's red line it's about humanity's red line a line that anyone with a conscience should draw. And a line that was drawn nearly a hundred years ago in 1925. When the chemical weapons convention was agreed on. This debate I might add -- -- is also about congress' red line. You agreed to the chemical weapons convention not all of you we're here to vote for it but the congress agreed to that. The congress passed the Syria accountability act which. Congressman Engel is referred to -- author. And that act says clearly and I quote. Syria's chemical weapons threaten the security of the Middle East. And the national security interest of the United States. I think repeatedly members of congress have spoken out about the grave consequences -- that particular. -- to use chemical weapons and -- speaker Boehner and leader Pelosi of stated in recent days that the actions of the Assad regime. Are unacceptable. And that the United States has a responsibility to respond. So as we debate. The world is watching. And the world is wondering not whether Assad regime actually did this. I think that fact is now beyond question the world is wondering. Whether the United States of America is going to consent through silence. To stand aside while this kind of brutality is allowed to happen. Without consequence. In the nearly 100 years since this global commitment against chemical weapons was made. Only -- tyrants. Have dared to cross the world's brightest line. Bashar Al Assad. -- now become the third. And history I think everyone -- -- knows. Holds nothing but infamy. For those criminals. And history also reserves very little sympathy. For their enablers. And that is the gravity of this moment that is really what is at stake. In the decision that the congress faces. Syria bottom line is important to America and our security for many reasons. First you can't overlook the danger is that these weapons as you said in this or accountability act. -- to the Middle East to our allies to our friends. You can't overlook the threat that they face even to the United States ultimately. If they fall into the wrong hands or if they are used with impunity. Since president Obama's policy is that -- Assad must go. It is not insignificant -- to deprive or degrade. -- sides chemical weapons. Deprives him of a lethal weapon in this ongoing civil war. In addition we have important strategic national security interests. Not just in preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons. But to avoid the creation of a safe haven. Or a base of operations for extremists on this others. To use these chemical weapons. Either against us or against our friends. Forcing us to change his calculation about his ability to act with impunity. -- contribute to his realization. That he cannot gas or shoot his way out. Of his predicament. Syria is also important because quite simply. I can't say this. Strongly enough to all of you. Many here -- parents. You know how. Lessons -- learned by children. Many -- at school. May have confronted -- -- later time but bully. On the block. Or in the building. I think quite simply common sense and human experience. And reality tell us. That the risk of not acting. Is greater than the risk of acting. If we don't take a stand here today. I guarantee you we are more likely to face far greater risks to our security. And a far greater likelihood. Of conflict that demands our action in the future. Why. Because we. As as confidently as we know. What happened in Damascus on August 21. We know that I side will read our silence our unwillingness to act. As a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity. After all has been said and done. If we don't now knowing that he's already done this at least eleven times that our intelligence community -- -- And here in this grotesque larger event larger than anything that's happened before. We back down the world -- down. We have sent an unmistakable message. Of permissiveness. Iran. I guarantee news hoping we look the other way. And surely they will interpret America's unwillingness to act against weapons of mass destruction has an unwillingness to act against weapons of mass destruction. And we will fight for the credibility. To make -- to -- against a nuclear weapon as meaningful as it should be without that fight. North Korea is hoping for ambivalence from the congress. They're all listening for our silence. So the authorization that President Obama seeks. Is distinctly and clearly. In our national interest. In our national security. Interest. We need to send to Syria into the world to dictators and terrorists allies civilians alike. The unmistakable message. That when we say never again. We actually don't mean sometimes. We don't mean somewhere. We mean never again. So this is a vote for accountability. The norms. And the laws of the civilized world that's what this vote -- for. And if we don't answer -- today. We will erode the standard that is protected our troops for a century our troops. Our troops in war. Have been protected. By the existence of this prohibition. Through World War II. Through Korea. Through Vietnam. Through both Iraq wars. The fact is we have not seen chemical weapons in the battlefield but for the two occasions I mentioned previously. Our troops are protected. This is a standard that we need to enforce. To stand up for America's interests. And I will say -- you unequivocally that our allies. And our partners are counting one's. The people of Israel. Jordan and Turkey each look next door and they -- chemical weapons being used. There -- one stiff breeze away from the potential of those weapons. Arming them. They anxiously await our assurance that our word is true. And they await the assurance that if the children. Lined up in those -- bloodied burial shrouds in Damascus. Where their own children as they might be if this got out of hand. They want to know that we would keep the world's problems. As justice Jackson said in the opening argument at Nuremburg. The -- the -- step in avoiding periodic wars. Which are inevitable -- the system of international lawlessness. Is to make statesman. Responsible. To the law. If the world's worst desperate -- -- that they can -- with impunity prohibitions. Against the world's worst weapons. Than those prohibitions. Are rendered. Just pieces of paper. That is what we mean by accountability. And that is I say to all of you respectfully. That is why we cannot be silent. But let me be very very clear walked into this room. A person of conscience stood up behind me as is the ability of people in our country. And that person. Said please don't take us toward -- take us to another war. I think the three of us sitting here understand that -- as well as any people in this country. Let me be clear. We are not asking America to go to war. And I say that sitting next to two. Individuals. Who well know what war is that there are others here today you know what -- -- They know the difference between going to war. And what the president is requesting now. We all agree. There will be no American boots on the ground. The president has made crystal clear. We have no intention. Of assuming responsibility for us -- civil war. That is not in the cards that is not what is here. The president is asking only for the power to make certain. That the United States of America means what we say. He is asking for authorization. Targeted and limited to deter and degrade. By -- -- its capacity. To use chemical weapons. I will make it clear. For those who feel that more ought to be done. In keeping with policy that I sent -- Clearly the degradation of his capacity to use those weapons has an impact. On the totality of the weapons available to. And it will have an impact on the battlefield. Just today before coming in here -- read an email to me. About -- general the minister of defense former minister assistant minister which who has just affected. And is now in Turkey. And there are other defections. That we are hearing about potential -- because of the potential that we might take action. So there will be downstream impacts though that is not the principal purpose of what the president is asking you for. Now some will undoubtedly an understandably ask about the unintended consequences of action. Will this drag -- in inadvertently. And they fear that a retaliation could lead to a larger conflict let me say again unequivocally bluntly. If I -- -- arrogant enough -- foolish enough to retaliate to the consequences. Of his own criminal activity. The United States and our allies have ample ways to make him regret that decision. Without going to war. Even -- supporters. Russia and Iran say publicly. That the use of chemical weapons as unacceptable. And guess -- either Iran and Syria itself. Acknowledged that these weapons were used. They just pretend. That the other guys who don't even have the capacity to do it somehow did it. So some will question the extent of our responsibility to act here. To them I say when someone kills hundreds of children's with a weapon the world has banned. We all are responsible. That's true because of treaties like the Geneva convention. And the chemical weapons convention. But it's also true because we share a common humanity. And a common sense of decency. This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter. This is not the time to give permission to a dictator was -- -- used these weapons. The unfettered ability to continue to use them because we stepped back. Neither our country. Nor our conscience. Can afford the cost. Of silence or -- action. So we have spoken up the president of the United States. Has made his decision. The president has decided we need to do this. But in keeping with our constitution. And the full measure of the pope's it. Articulated aspirations of our founding fathers. The president is coming to the congress of the United States the decision that the American people agree with the and asking the congress to stand with him -- with this administration. To stand up for our security. To protect our values. To lead the world with conviction that is clear. That is why we're here and we look forward to having a rigorous discussion with -- in furtherance of that mission. Thank you thank you mr. secretary we have been joined by secretary -- Who. Before being and -- was secretary of state like John Kerry are laying out the Obama administration's push for a military action in Syria. And as you see right behind secretaries carry them. We people wit and pink painted hands that are being held in the air and those are members of code pink a peaceful -- group there. And that it appeared at today's hearing obviously and then also yesterday's hearing from this at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also where secretary of state and Kerry and secretary of defense Chuck Hagel you can see about to make his statement along with the chairman joint -- that Martin Dempsey. Will be presenting their opening statements and answers some questions. From some of the house members and it and it's today we will continue to live -- that and continue to monitor for you but right now want to bring in NBC's that's required in Washington. Talk a little bit about old stuff politics on the hill right now and -- what does that that are -- specifically in congress about this resolution. Excuse page and it's good to see it that -- the debate right now is largely over okay what's this strike the US. Proposed strike would accomplish. And -- the game plan -- -- I think there's consensus. From what we're hearing on the hill that most people believe -- that chemical weapons were used by the Asad regime. On August 21 at the bigger question. Is what should the president do about it what will that accomplish and how can that action. Be safely yet XEQ did so as not to draw the US. Into a -- award and that's the big question right now and are they still looking at two major points and other over the weekend as those reports -- trying to come out of the president had made that statement on Saturday is congress to looking at the two main points of the source of the attack. And potential length of a strike. They are mean it did they're looking for sure -- from the administration that this is going to be very limited. Tailored strike and that they have a game plan in place you're hearing secretary Kerry today. Again continuing to do that that make that pitch. That if the United States does not act if the united if the world does not act -- it sends a pretty significant message to other. You know other. Countries around the world items that wanna continue development chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. We're hearing I ran continue to come up time and again now and the rhetoric from this administration. Saying that if we don't act in Syria it sends a very clear message through -- -- that the US doesn't mean what it says. And that some of the White House obviously has been pushing force that international support in the -- national coalition's attempt to build on that. What about the actual language of the resolution that's been put forward by senators I know that they are getting closer to coming to an agreement on it but. Senator John McCain although he did show his support for present for the president's push. He says the resolution isn't going far enough. That's right right now they're either. The debate over the language over what this resolution will say and authorizing the president to take action. There was a proposal put on the table in the senate last night that would restrict this action to sixty days. It was very explicitly rule out any boots on the ground in Syria. And then as you mentioned some members of the -- John McCain one of -- Lindsey Graham another. Think that it needs to go further is that then instead of limited strikes -- that the congress needs to give the president has pretty broad license. In taking out a side -- -- that debate is taking place so it does seem. Like whatever comes out of this animal's behavior -- pretty restricted resolutions. We also know -- after similar legislation moving now in the house so look at -- in very limited very tailored. Sixty days and again there's no guarantee that this -- -- and from that Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday there was a -- testy exchange rather between senator Rand Paul. And secretary -- want to play a clip of that. Make me proud today secretary Kerry stand up for -- and say you're gonna Obey the constitution and if we vote you down. Which is unlikely about a life that if we do you would go with what the people say to their congress and you wouldn't go forward with the war that -- congress votes against. Can you give me a better answer secretary caring. I can't get a different answer than the one -- I don't know what the president's decision is bottled -- this bill ought to make you proud because he still has the constitutional authority. And he would be in keeping with the constitution. By disagree receive -- I don't believe he has the constitutional authority I think congress -- his. Let's have a real debate in this country and on meaningless debate that in the end you losing is now while we had the authority and over and go and go to war -- in line. A couple of items. Senator pressure is nothing. Meaningless then there's everything real only if not adhere to what we -- -- -- only if our vote makes a difference only if our vote is binding is it meaningful and I will leave to the man who was elected to be present -- United States the responsibility for. Telling you what his decision is if and when that. Moment came but the president intends to win this vote. That is not going to make prior announcement. So -- given the intensity of that exchange's -- -- -- -- a members are thinking about today. Well certainly among that faction within the GOP that senator Rand Paul represents remember there's a division right now inside the Republican Party over over. What to do in Syria there are the hawks people like John McCain and then as you just -- -- Rand Paul Erskine the skeptical side. The non interventionist. Paul says very clearly that the United States should not take action in Syria with -- congressional authorization from the beginning however. The president has said that that he has the authority he can do it anyways and and he's going to congress to present a stronger front. We heard from the president again today who said he retains that right to active. I think it's safe to assume he would really not like to have to -- that authority now that he's gone through the trouble that congress pass congress and they're they're looking for permission here. But it it rankled some members as you saw there from senator Paul. When you hear Kerry and others say secretary Kerry and others say that no you know in fact if this doesn't go through the president may still act so there is there is that debate taking place. And -- and there are debates happening in parliament's all around the world France is holding his own debate today and currently under way. And the UK prime minister David Cameron was -- from the house and comments and he had this to say. My only regret over last week his I didn't think it was necessary to divide the house -- -- -- Took the decision that it -- Which obviously begs the question then -- -- didn't do that the actions of the parliament in the UK have any kind of reflection of what might prompt. Our own congress to do. Well in the sense that that the president doesn't want -- -- you know repeated what happened there and I think that's why you see this all out full court press by secretary Kerry. -- and others really trying to get the message out to lay out the evidence holding dozens of briefings with members of congress we know they're placing. Conference calls to key constituencies progressive groups personal calls individual calls. They don't want to see happen. To President Obama -- what had happened to our prime minister Cameron which was in their view the White House view. That not enough evidence was laid out the -- -- case was not made aggressively enough ahead of times they're looking to prevent that here. I think -- also seen in the next few days are seen on the world stage in Saint Petersburg in Russia you've got the president there now. You heard him again today really making that global case that if the world doesn't -- this -- The world's red line not Obama's red line those are hits -- his words this morning. That it is really a loss of credibility for the international community when it comes to chemical weapons -- Are in less than ever before let you go what are we looking -- how was the wind blowing on Capitol Hill for potential count. Well ABC news has venture it has been polling members of congress were trying big T get the latest count right now on the senate we can tell you. That there -- about 22 members in favor of likely in favor of the war authorization resolution in Syria. Slightly less about it doesn't oppose. But 56 members in the senate -- -- -- -- more than 56. Still undecided so there's a lot of skepticism a lot of questions remain. The house of course and its hundreds of members a much murkier picture that we're trying to get a handle on. Certainly that will play out -- the next couple days aren't ABC's Devin Dwyer in Washington -- thank you for that and of course we will continue to have that house foreign affairs committee hearing going on on our live stream and a complete report on abcnews.com. For now -- Dan -- in New York with -- ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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