Congress Pumps Brakes on Syria Vote Amid Russian Proposal

Developments concerning a deal to eradicate Syria's chemical weapons seems to gain steam.
14:38 | 09/10/13

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Transcript for Congress Pumps Brakes on Syria Vote Amid Russian Proposal
This is a special report from ABC news. When I'm -- company or with the CBC news digital special report congress is edging away from a strike on Syria as word of a possible diplomatic solution. Comes from Russia in a few moments the president will -- Capitol Hill first meeting with democratic senators then their Republican counterparts. And -- the president speaks to senator's secretary of state John Kerry Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and general Martin Dempsey address the house armed services committee. And ABC's Karen Travers is find the very latest developments from Washington on Syria and has the latest for -- Karen. Good afternoon -- yesterday's developments will really shook things up here in Washington. President Obama said that he welcomed the -- possibility that Syria would turn over its chemical weapons and he insist. It was the threat and the US military strike that drove them -- this point. President Obama would try to convince a skeptical nation at a military strike on Syria must -- on the table. But yesterday opened the door to play and the death -- -- Yields control of his chemical weapons to international. Authority is military strike on pawns. That's -- Russia offered a plan yesterday where Syria it would do just that with Russian support. In an interview yesterday with ABC's Diane Sawyer President Obama said that -- US military strike is what -- -- this point if we can resolve this without military conflict that has Margaret preference. Today reports that Syria's foreign ministers said they accept the Russian plan in order to quote -- -- American aggression. Precious as she announces her concrete. -- -- -- Obama administration is skeptical. Of -- will come through and were waiting for that proposal. But we're not waiting for long. -- new ABC news Washington Post poll found that nearly two thirds of Americans oppose a strike against Syria. Despite the diplomatic developments the president's lobbying campaign for military action and today President Obama sits down on Capitol Hill with senate Democrats and Republicans. But right now there isn't enough support neither the house or the -- I'll be voting against this revolution a vital national security risk it clearly not a -- The White House as President Obama has agreed to work through the UN security council on Russia's plans and France has said that they would -- a resolution to get the ball rolling Dan. -- -- Karen thank you for that of course big developments all ahead of the president's prime time address that is scheduled for tonight at 9 o'clock. But before that I want to introduce chips on Capitol Hill and also Devin -- outside the White House the latest -- these developments regarding Syria and gentlemen start with you senator McConnell we heard they're saying. He would vote against the resolution but we also heard the opposite. When he spoke with house speaker John Boehner -- wanna play that thing. But senator McConnell is -- on the floor right now that he is supposed to Syria resolution do you still support it. Henry skeptical of all of the eruptions involvement in this -- -- clearly diplomacy is always a better outcome the military action. But I will see through -- and somewhat skeptical. Of those that -- depth discussion today. I've supported ever present that I've served under the last three years when it comes. 02 the use of military force. There's one person who speaks for the United States of America but when it comes to foreign policy -- the president of the United States. That's -- I think it's critically important. That when the president. Goes out on behalf of the American people. That that lament that members of congress -- -- can't be supportive vote. -- -- the leadership is divided but -- the rest of congress the same way. There's no question -- and the leadership is divided on this. We have been waiting to hear from senator McConnell he is the only one of the top four congressional leaders who we've not heard from with his view on this yet but. In coming out against -- serious strike. He is really sending them a signal that. Probably no more senate Republicans will sign on to this but John Boehner has -- -- somewhat surprising is standing with the president here -- Syria but. Essentially the action on Capitol Hill. Be -- debate has been. It is in a bit of a holding pattern if you will now there's a coalition of some eight senators a bipartisan debate senators. Trying to react to this new. I'm diplomatic action. And there are crafting a new proposals so everything is essentially on hold President Obama is coming up to capitalist he said this afternoon but really within the hour and he is going to try and and tell people to hold on -- really trying to get Democrats to stop coming out -- Against this so -- three Republicans have put him out against looser rules apartment a holding pattern in the White -- is fine -- that. Because they need to as one official told me this morning to take a breath and assess all this new information. So division among Republicans. With house speaker Boehner supporting the president's. Mitch McConnell -- against any kind of military action. And Senator John McCain from Arizona of course a very highly respected in high profile Republican himself also supporting some kind of military action. Although he has been critical about the president's description of what that action might actually be. What about for the Democrats though. The Democrats are are split on this as well and democratic senators I'm talking to privately say that their constituents and there. You know particularly this -- liberal base moveon.org it's on television with an ad. Urging senators to vote no this is a very difficult place for some of these democratic senators to -- -- particularly those who are running for reelection in 24 -- But today are for the most part. A biting the wishes of the White House and at least that keeping their. Powder -- if you will but -- really just a few moments ago another democratic senator Massachusetts senator. Senator Markey Ed Markey he came out opposed to -- us Syria. Resolution so the big picture here is. There are not enough votes probably not even -- fifty votes if this were go to final passage now but of course it is in a holding pattern as we've said. And the other action -- to take place. And that was a bit of a switch from senator -- when he voted present last week during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when they -- but his skepticism was clear when he voted present not exactly. A -- about courage perhaps he was hearing a lot from his constituents that he finally came out note today. So let me ask you this than just win this possibility of a proposal coming from Russia and was serious and in fact that it would accept. The fact of its chemical weapons arsenal being put under international control how was that plane out in congress is it a major factor or. Have those decisions are even made. No it is a major factor I mean people are definitely opened to the idea of some type of the diplomacy here and that's -- this bipartisan group. This from being led by Senator McCain is working on -- working on crafting language for a new resolution. -- -- would. Essentially put this in the hands of the UN at least for now but there are many skeptical senators on this -- talked to Senator McCain. -- yesterday he's -- he's deeply skeptical of Russia's. -- involved in this that they want to let this active diplomacy possibly play out. All right ABC's -- selling on Capitol Hill Jeff thank you for that I -- switch now over ABC's Devin Dwyer who is also the White House and in DeVon I want to talk about that. The prospect of this proposals put forth by Russia before we -- -- that though. I want to show little bit about how we actually got -- less than 24 hours ago beginning with secretary Kerry's words at a press conference. In the London and any with the president's comments to our Diane Sawyer about twelve hours later. Is there anything at this point. That his government could do or offer that would stop an attack. But. Sure he could turn over every single bit of this chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turner -- fault. Without delay. And allow that full and total accounting before that. But he isn't about to do it and it can't be done obviously. With regard to -- -- Reports today about this a Russian initiative we have we've seen the reports. We want to take a hard look the proposal will obviously discuss the idea with the Russians. And of course we would welcome a decision and action. By Syria to give up its chemical weapons the whole point of what we're doing is to stop Syria from using these weapons again. Now if the regime. Immediately. Surrendered its stockpiles. To international control. As was suggested by secretary Kerry. And the Russians. That would be an important step. But this can not happy. Another excuse for delay for obstruction. If -- -- Yields control of his chemical weapons to international. Authority. Are we back from the brink. Is military strike on -- Absolutely if in fact that happened I don't think that we would have gotten -- this point unless we had. Maintain a credible. Possible in the middle military strike and I don't think now's the time for us to let up on that. So. -- I want to talk about the importance of rhetoric in this entire situation because it was about a year ago when the president had said that line about a red line. Potentially being cross if in fact the Asad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. And now this line just yesterday that has been. Very closely picked up first by the Russians and then of course by the press and we saw how it evolved over the past 24 hours. That's right secretary Kerry planned or not it with those remarks and there's some intrigue about that -- Washington. I certainly created an opening for the Obama administration for the Russians to now. -- find themselves in this potential out. When it comes to serious chemical weapons I should say -- that there is as we've been noting now serious skepticism here over this proposal. But the White House says they are gonna take a close look at it. And they're there in many ways hopeful as Jeff mentioned did this does buy them some time that prevented. As we heard from the president yesterday four times in his interview with Diane -- his preference he says. Of course to resolve this peacefully not militarily diplomacy obviously being the first and foremost wish for that at the same time the president is also -- in bad. This possibility was discussed. During the G-20 summit. That's right in their some -- scene -- the words here we actually just spent the morning trying to look back at the tick talk about how this played out. The president the White House official is telling us this morning in that of course this. Concept of serious chemical weapons going under international control was discussed loosely broadly. As far back as a year ago in June June 2012 and Mexico at the G-20 summit there. It's unclear whether a -- concrete proposals such as this almost on the table at that time it -- in -- period that's the case. Of course and -- President Obama and President Putin spoke one on one. In an unexpected meeting last Friday in Saint Petersburg Russia this topic did come up again both leaders acknowledged it. Again it didn't appear at the time that any concrete proposal was on the table. But then when secretary Kerry made those comments in the Russians jumped out of there's a lot of speculation about. Whether something had been in the works here but the bottom line from the White House is look this sort of thing has been on the table for -- for a long time that the Russians had just been obstructionist stance. Well and and house speaker John Boehner -- kind of want to advance this for a minute because house speaker John -- has a that he wasn't necessarily convinced about this proposal. About the sincerity and frankly -- effectiveness of this proposals put forth by the Russians. Of course speaker Boehner is a huge supporter of the president's call for military action in Syria there has the White House had any kind of response -- -- the house speaker's. And sort of hesitation to embrace those possibility. Well I think the White House shares a little bit of that the skepticism over this proposal and I think look this sounds good to everyone right having -- turn over their chemical weapons but let's not forget that. Syria first of all which has the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons has been spread out all across the country and in the air dispersed. In so many different locations. And there is a fierce civil war going on there right now fierce gun battle. It's hard to imagine and swift fashion a team of UN investigators -- team from the UN going -- to seize control of these things getting them out of the country. So while again this sounds good to everybody. I think even logistically if there's a sincerity here and there's a big question on that front but if there is sincerity here and something -- -- just how this is actually executed remains an open question as well that's what with this -- -- on the table and -- congress back from its recess and the president about to make his prime -- address tonight. Is there a possibility that congress could even vote on this resolution. Well what we're hearing right now is that members on the hill are looking at different ways to amend the resolution that was passed out of that senate committee last week. To find a way to perhaps give the president a fixed amount at times -- to explore the option of the Russian proposal here. One idea that was -- was perhaps. Amending the resolution are preparing a resolution that would give the president. Not necessarily authority but it would sort of allow him to act if she needed to. Following. This Russian proposal as it plays out. And I should know just what were on the air here there's a report from AFP that that. At UN resolution brought forward by the French has been blocked again by the Russians at the UN today at this very moment. So there's still again -- how a lot of questions around whether this actually is gonna go anywhere. Where it when it comes to international diplomacy. And that very point is an of the White House wanted to point out this morning -- in fact of how Russia has played out and support. Of any kind of UN intervention or any kind of weapons inspectors not only in Syria that any kind of a retaliatory action -- that. ABC's Devin Dwyer and White House Devin thank you for that of course have a complete recap. Regarding Syria on abcnews.com. For now on Democrats are -- New York with his ABC news digital special reports. This has been a special report from me.

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

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