Top Obama administration officials appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to make the case for military action in Syria. Their appearance came hours after President Obama won the support of key House Republicans. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Michael Scotto has the story
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- John Kerry said President Obama's mission in Syria is clear.
"President Obama is not asking America to go to war. He is asking only for the power to make clear, to make certain that the United States means what we say," Kerry said.
Kerry appeared alongside Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top military leaders to lay out why the president must take military action. The Obama administration says there's clear evidence the regime of President Bashar Al Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.
The hearing was punctuated by protesters opposed to military conflict. But Kerry said the goal was not to got involved in Syria's civil war, but to send a message to Assad and dictators around the world that chemical weapons are unacceptable.
Kerry said, "If we don't respond, we're going to be back here asking you to respond to some greater confrontation with greater potential for damage and danger."
The administration says military action would be limited, both in duration and scope. But Kerry did have to backtrack after he appeared, at one point, to leave the door open to troops on the ground.
"Let me be very clear now, 'cause I don't want anything to come out of this hearing that leaves any door open to any possibility. So let's shut that door now as tight as we can," Kerry said.
The President's chances in the Senate appear good. The House, however, is another story, where members remain skeptical.
The President, however, did win over two critical House Republicans Tuesday, when House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Eric Cantor said they support the President's call for action.
"This is something the United States, as a country, needs to do," Boehner said.
Kerry will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its own hearing.