|US lawmakers hit pause button over Syria
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is delaying a key vote on authorizing the use of force in Syria to let President Barack Obama publicly address the issue.
Earlier in the day, the top Obama ally in Congress had scheduled the crucial test vote for Wednesday but then backtracked to let the US leader sell his plan on strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I want to make sure the president [makes] his case to the Senate and the American people before voting on this matter,'' Reid said, AFP reports.
“I don't think we need to see how fast we can do this. We have to see how well we can do this.''
Amid deep divisions in Congress over the way forward, and with growing skepticism among Americans about air strikes, Obama meets with Democratic and Republican senators Tuesday and gives a televised address to the nation.
Three polls out Monday, by CNN/ORC International, the Pew Research Center, and the Washington Post/ABC, indicated a strong majority of Americans don't want a congressional resolution to pass, and 63 percent or more oppose air strikes.
Russia, which has blocked US and British efforts to gain a United Nations resolution approving international action against Syria, appeared to open a path toward a solution Monday when it suggested a plan for Damascus to hand over its chemical weapons.
Obama called the plan “potentially positive,'' and hinted at congressional delays as his administration weighs Moscow's comments.
“I don't anticipate that you would see a succession of votes this week or anytime in the immediate future,'' Obama told ABC News.
His fellow Democrat, Senator Chris Coons, credited Obama's strike threat for helping prompt the Russian proposal, calling it “a welcome change'' in Russian policy.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee member said he would work with fellow lawmakers on a plan that ``allows both diplomacy and continued pressure.''