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Pelosi: Deterring Use of WMD's 'A Pillar of National Security'

Congressional leaders in the House signal support for President Obama's plan to strike Syria.
14:15 | 09/03/13

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Transcript for Pelosi: Deterring Use of WMD's 'A Pillar of National Security'
This is a special report from ABC news. -- what I'm Dan Cutler in New York with this ABC news digital special. -- today President Obama -- congressional leaders at the White House trying to convince them to approve an attack on Syria that vote. Probably it will not take place until early next week but the White House. Is running out of time to garner enough support. ABC's Karen Travers has the latest now from Washington care. Good afternoon Dan -- -- -- top Republicans line up to support president Obama's call for a military strike against Syria house speaker John Boehner said today. He backs the president and Senator John McCain indicating yesterday that he's also on board but he does still have some questions. And damn what the song means that we will really see a big White House push over the next couple of days. The full court press continues. To -- Obama administration is pushing congress to support a military strike against Syria. This is not Iraq. And this is not Afghanistan. This is very limited proportional. Step. There will send a clear message. The US says nearly 15100 people were killed including at least 400 children -- chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital Damascus last month. White House. Question for approval for launching -- military response. This morning the president met with top lawmakers at the White House I would not be going to congress if I wasn't serious but consultations. Today secretary of state John Kerry and secretary of defense -- hate will go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It will have a case that a failure to act against Syrian president Asad would set a bad precedent. And potentially -- rogue nations like Iran and North Korea. -- house has a tough sell on Capitol Hill but it may get a boost from house speaker John Boehner said today he will support the president's actions the use of these. Weapons have to be responded to and only the United States. Has the capability in the capacity. Two to stop -- Authorizing a military strike against Syria could be -- -- congress' most important farm policy votes in more than a decade. And -- the White House may be getting support from congressional leaders but some skeptical rank and file members say they still need to be convinced. And -- the -- the matters the president may actually be running out of time for those lobbying efforts because he's going to be heading away. For the G-20 summit later this means to it was so cool we lobbying -- on the president's behalf. It's right President Obama does -- at a town tonight -- in Sweden first before he gets to the G-20 in Russia. Where -- will be meeting with leaders who at this point many are not backing the US in this potential military strike against -- so. -- here at home the White House is gonna rely on members of the cabinet. As well as Vice President Biden we just got word that the vice president is canceling an event that he was supposed to have in Florida later this week it was gonna focus on the economy. He's gonna stay here in Washington to keep up that push on Capitol Hill. You'll also see secretary Kerry and secretary -- back on the house side tomorrow the meet with the senate today go before the house tomorrow to take questions about Syria. But Dan here's something that is -- saying in this just in house speaker John Mayer's office just said that. They're not gonna put pressure on members to vote on this there is going to be. No whipping of the votes as they call -- by leadership they say this is up to the White House to get support members can vote their conscience so while we heard a very significant vote of support from house speaker John Boehner today. He's not really going to be going in telling his members is that his Republican caucus to get behind him he's gonna leave that up to them and the White House. And interest he sometimes there is a different meaning behind the message there can't thank you for that. -- -- bring in our political director Rick Klein and Rick I want to get your thoughts on what Karen just said before we go to -- -- to a summit that John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi had just when they left the White House this morning. What do you make about the fact that that that house speaker Boehner has thrown its support behind the president but not in fact. Getting his fellow Republicans in line. That tells you just about everything you need to know about this effort the leadership both the Democrats and the Republicans. Mostly on board what President Obama is doing but -- doing so reluctantly and against the will of many of their members speaker Boehner. As well as leader Pelosi being -- that many if not most necessarily of their members. Don't want to see this happen don't wanna be on record in support of this don't think necessarily that it's a good idea. To be out there militarily in Syria very skeptical so much cynicism in both parties right now. The president now has the piece together a coalition using different fragments of the Republican Party being different fragments of his own base in the Democratic Party. Again some of allowed us voices on either side it easy ECB are serious test right now in the president's lobbying ability. And of the commitment of this congress to back the president up on matters of national security. And the president making those lobbying efforts early this morning when he met with congressional leaders in fact I want to play a little bit of this sound whether we're talking up the house speaker had made. Along with -- Nancy Pelosi let's listen about. This is something that the United States as -- country. Needs to do. I'm gonna support the president's. Call for action believable my -- Should support this call for action. We -- -- around the world that need to understand that we're -- -- tolerate this type of behavior. We also have our lives around the world and allies in the region. Who also need to know that America. Won't be there and stand up when businesses -- Weapons of mass destruction -- -- -- their use is that pillar of our national security. -- has done. That -- -- differentiation. From what he has done up until now. People say nearly killed a 100000 people what it what's the difference with this fourteen behind with this 14100. He crossed a line. With using -- chemical -- President Obama did not draw the Red Line. Humanity through it decades ago. And. So Rick seen Boehner and Pelosi on the same page fighting for the same cause is obviously a rarity -- of itself and often -- we talk about these battles in terms of red. Vs blue but but the battle lines are a little more complicated and -- along party lines. It's far more complicated and it's indicative of the splits inside this country in both parties you've got. Republicans who are increasingly being dominated by a libertarian wing that -- -- We're very suspicious of foreign intervention of any sort. You've got Democrats who ten years after the Iraq War are still smarting from the political lessons in battle scars of that battle so they know that they -- their party does not want to be seen as the one that is rushing into another war. In the Middle East you have a country that is war weary after more than a decade of entanglements abroad in the Middle East you don't they don't want to see their members of congress. Move in this direction and finally have a president who himself mark down that -- -- a year ago and is now decided to go back to congress to test the people. Through their elected representatives on Capitol Hill. Before moving forward it is an extraordinary test of our political system. And as an extraordinary set of circumstances for this president who of course rose to power based on. It the strength of his anti war rhetoric in his criticism. -- -- alone unilateral foreign policy for him to be in the situation now trying to cobble together the domestic coalition to move ahead it's rather amazing. And from the house not to voices from the senate Republican Bob Corker. Who is pushing for an attack on Syria spoke today about the way forward in Syria want to listen to what he said. Based on the conversation. In the Oval Office I think that we are -- -- and the office space it needs to address. And again I think these hearings today while. That. Senator it was -- -- hateful. Certainly -- -- the it's the fact that we have regarding use of or fair. I think it's very important for them -- also address the other aspects. The question -- what are the other aspects that senator coworkers talking about. There's a concern -- you heard -- from Senator McCain yesterday that. The president not going into this suggested to try to slap a wrist back and says this is -- said. Send us a shot across the value have to make sure that you're going to you know you're going to be changing the balance over there in some way. There's a lot of pressure on the president from warhawks from those on the right who are saying what's going there and do this right in making a difference let's strengthen the opposition. Let's weaken the Asad regime. And that of course raises different situations different scenarios down the road that has its own complications. If you try to upset the balance of power -- other countries and other actors. Respond to that so he's got to be careful with the balance here if you move a little far too far in that direction this direction pushes back. It is indicative of that of the problems he's gonna have a cell in this and let's be -- -- there isn't serious concern right now about getting. The votes in congress he's likely to get it he doesn't have -- right now so what he says what he does the the kind of assurances the way the mission evolves over and -- in the coming days all of that. Is going to be geared around trying to -- sure he gets a vote that he is probably going to end up getting who. Are the people that the president is leaning on the heaviest to continue with his lobbying effort -- -- -- you say that there is likely to be -- supportive. Support from congress coming. The president is headed overseas of the G-20 summit and will not be able to meet face to face with some of these congressional leaders or tens of the senate foreign relations. Discussions that take place so for the president's front men -- women right now that are really kind of trying to lobby this forward. Inside the administration Vice President Biden playing a major role Denis McDonough that the chief of staff of -- secretary Kerry. Is a big player in this because of his ties on Capitol Hill but more important -- that I think are the folks now in office on -- on Capitol Hill. I mentioned Senator McCain senator Graham they are critical allies and -- without them there is no resolution also on the Republican side. I'm Mike Rogers is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he is likely a supporter and is going to have to be vocal supporter for the president. Over on the democratic side. Bob Menendez is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. -- had a complicated relationship in the past that the president but he is a 100% behind him right now. And is going to be doing his marching orders over the coming days to try to get his colleagues on board there are so many different coalitions at play here. He's got to pick up -- little pockets in many different places so there are going to be many generals in this army. Congress -- -- in recess now and it doesn't appear to be any kind of early call for them to come back early. What is the potential timeline for a vote. Let's think about a week from today are so is that as the first opening of that window you have to imagine some procedural pieces fall into place after they. Worth. After they return to Washington's I would look in the Wednesday Thursday range of next week one of the reasons that they're numbering in the back early is that the president knows he needs this time. And in some ways he is better equipped to use that time. Without congress all back in Washington the same time they can attend briefings they gonna do phone calls they can do whatever they need to be comfortable and feel comfortable. But you won't have congress -- speaking with one voice for the most part this week. That begins next week and that's where you can see I imagine the -- a leader of the principal opposition on the democratic side on the Republican side that'll emerge in the coming days. President has the kind of feel that out is seen as they feel it out as he is of course abroad as you mentioned. During the G-20 meetings in Russia later in the week he won't be able to do personal lobbying. But his hope is that he can bring some other members of the world community on board and change the politics back home. I'm not trying to push the calendar any further and make 2016 come any faster than what it is. To happen but of course what we look at the candidates a look at the potential contenders. When major issues like this come up they often times do weigh in our possibilities for what an outcome might be what have we heard from Maine the big front runners. You're exactly right -- even more than that history has shown us that. A presidential candidacies can be made or lost in this period of a foreign crisis look at. President Obama who is as candidate Obama as just state -- -- Obama. Made -- name for himself back in 2003 by being against the Iraq War that lingered all the way through the 2008 primaries Hillary Clinton was on the other side of that issue quite famously. So it does matter Huard who watch a couple people -- of Rand Paul the this -- Tea Party senator. From Kentucky he has been out they are very strong making the case against any kind of military intervention. Senator Ted Cruz also very skeptical they represented. The libertarian wing that I referenced earlier and they are out there making that case pretty aggressively that the president is wrong to do anything militarily. -- you have more of a mainstream Republican position senator Marco Rubio who has been closer to that McCain Graham position of the president should have done a lot more a lot sooner. He's been pretty silent -- rubio has of late. And you got a whole crop of governors people like Chris Christie people like Bobby Jindal people they see themselves as statesman on the world stage they don't have a natural platform. And they are staying quiet for the most part. If indeed they get involved will be interesting to see which direction they push themselves -- you'd think of themselves more on the -- side of things. In trying to cracked the president up and and the idea that politics stops at the at the water's edge that comes up time to time. But right now they are staying out of it and they're gonna let their their colleagues and erstwhile. Colleagues in congress figure out of their own. So this on -- and sometimes a community is the approach to take on that. So coming up 230. The Senate Intelligence Committee will be holding a meeting who'll be in the room what do we expect to hear from that meeting. A couple of key players -- secretary of state John Kerry who's been had more forceful and anyone in the administration in making the case for aggressive action against the side. The secretary of defense -- -- of course he's going to have to oversee. The efforts along with Martin Dempsey is another another for another key military ally. -- military leader rather who is going to be in the room to talk about the military and in this. And of course density is the one says that there is an urgency around doing this right away he's given the president. Some cover in saying that this doesn't have to happen today could happen next week he can -- a few weeks are now. The timeline is important as the president makes this case. All right our political director Rick Klein -- at all Rick thank you for that of course. Wins all the latest to debate the vote count and the current situation -- here you can go to abcnews.com. For now though I'm Dan -- New York with this 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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