McCain Withholds Support on New Syria Resolution

The President's courtship will continue

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Updated Wednesday, 12:28 p.m.

Sen. John McCain on Wednesday declined to support a revised Senate resolution authorizing limited strikes in Syria, complicating President Barack Obama’s campaign to get congressional approval for military action in the war-torn country.

McCain, the Arizona Republican and Obama’s 2008 White House rival, has long been a strong advocate for intervention in Syria’s civil war, and Obama doggedly courted McCain’s support for the measure authorizing military force, including during a meeting at the White House on Monday. But McCain said the limited actions that would be authorized by the new draft resolution now don’t go far enough in responding to Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons last month.

“In its current form, I do not,” McCain said Wednesday when asked if he supports the measure, the Associated Press reports.

McCain, who had previously said it would be “catastrophic” for Congress to turn down Obama’s request, may still back the measure if Senate negotiators alter it. While Obama won the support of House GOP leaders on Tuesday, McCain’s opposition could make it harder to bring other Republican foreign policy hawks aboard. On the flip side, it may make it easier for Obama to win support from war-weary Democrats.

The resolution, fleshed out Tuesday by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who together head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, puts a 90-day limit on action and forbids American boots on the ground. The resolution could be put to a vote as early as Monday when the House returns from summer recess.

“If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this, after the president of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic, in that the credibility of this country with friends and adversaries alike would be shredded,” McCain said earlier this week.