- Vote on training, arming rebels comes Wednesday
- Parties expect defections in critical vote on war
- Questions remain over possible need for ground forces
A day before the House votes on whether to give President Barack Obama the authority to train and arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS, leaders of both political parties are working the phones and button-holing members to secure support for the measure.
While no one is predicting the vote will fail, there is deep resistance across the political spectrum about signing off on the limited provision that was added to a short-term government spending bill.
A bloc of House conservatives is solidly opposed, with some arguing the President's strategy to rely on groups inside Syria to combat ISIS isn't tough enough and won't defeat the terror group.
"I think the President has asked for this bare minimum because he knows it's (the strategy) going to fail," Arizona GOP Rep. Matt Salmon told reporters after House Republicans huddled in the Capitol basement to discuss the vote. Salmon said he was called by both the House majority leader and GOP whip about the vote, but he said he plans to vote no.
Liberal Democrats, particularly those who served in the House during the debate over the Iraq War, are opposed for a different reason. They are worried that taking this step will lead the United States into another complicated war in the Mideast, and warn that growing involvement could eventually mean ground forces would be needed.
But they're also being lobbied by their leadership to support the measure.
The number two House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, acknowledged the divisions among Democrats, but he stressed that the authority to help the Free Syrian Army is "is limited by time and limited in scope."
Anticipating defections in both parties, House leaders know that both Republicans and Democrats will be needed to pass the President's request. They scheduled another classified intelligence briefing about ISIS on Tuesday afternoon for members who have questions.