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Rep. McGovern says president should rethink vote by Congress

WASHINGTON — US Representative James P. McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, called on President Obama on Sunday to withdraw his request for congressional authorization for military strikes against Syria before this week’s votes, even as the White House pushes its uphill campaign for supporters.

“If I were the president, I would withdraw my request for authorization of this particular point. I don’t believe the support is there in Congress,” McGovern, who opposes the current resolution for military strikes, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “People view war as a last resort. And I don’t think people think that we’re at that point. So I would step back .”

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Congress is scheduled to begin voting Wednesday whether to authorize limited strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for alleged chemical arms use. The prospects for approval are uncertain.

Overall, 111 members have publicly declared opposition to the Syria resolution, and 115 are leaning against it, according to a Washington Post count.

Many lawmakers who oppose attacking Syria believe that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. But they have voiced wariness about US involvement, notwithstanding Obama’s promise that there will be no “boots on the ground.”

McGovern made his comments as part of a congressional roundtable, appearing on CNN with Buck McKeon, a Republican from California and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee. McKeon and Blackburn said they are also against military strikes in the face of defense cuts and opposition from the American people.

A McGovern spokesman said Sunday that the congressman opposed the current resolution for military strikes. While McGovern has left open the possibility of considering a different measure, he said on CNN that Obama “has to convince me that this is effective and this is the right thing to do. I’m not there.”

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough projected confidence during appearances on five Sunday news shows that the administration would gain congressional approval.

“This resolution is going to pass after we work this, this week,” McDonough told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

Obama is slated to conduct six national television interviews Monday, in advance of a Tuesday evening address to the nation.

Tracy Jan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.
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