Visit Firedoglake’s Syria Whip Count Page

Here we are at Day 6 of our whip effort.  This is where we stand:

Syria War Vote Count Sat Sept 7 2013

Democrats Republicans Total
Firm Nay 22 91 113
Firm Yea 20  8  28
Leaning Nay 43 90 133
Leaning Yea 27  6  33
Undecided 87 39 126
TOTAL 200 233 433

I’ll be listing the positions of individual House members below as I learn them. In the mean time, for your reading enjoyment, have a look at this piece from Greg Sargent which outlines how the White House plans to get a “yes vote” through the House on Syria.

I’m the first to call bs on the liberal kabuki going on, and view many of the Democratic nays and as well as those in radio silence as closet yeas. But the piece, sourced to Democratic “aides,” anticipates that Pelosi will deliver 120-130 Democratic votes, and they’re counting on the Republicans for 90-100 votes.

Politico echoes this:

Democrats are quick to try to deflect any questions about the politics of Democrats being forced to carry the resolution over the finish line — Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said it’s actually up to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to whip its membership in line.

If the expectation of the Democrats is that Republicans are going to carry this home, I think they’re likely to fail.

I added undecideds to the chart above.  As you can see, there are only 39 Republicans undeclared at this point. Add that to the 15 Republican firm yea/lean yea votes and you only get 42. Which means Boehner is going to have to turn 50 or so nays to yeas in order to deliver 90-100 votes.

My guess is the Democrats are counting on AIPAC to make a big push and turn a lot of Republicans who now say they are opposed. But you don’t have to be the amazing Kreskin to see that if AIPAC really cared that much they would have been all over this from the get. The fact that they waited this long is going to be a big signal to Republicans that AIPAC doesn’t really care that much, and I imagine they’ll be hard pressed to turn 50 Republican votes.

AIPAC will probably be more successful in getting Democratic supporters to commit.  And we’ll see a lot more Democrats commit to voting for the bill starting Monday when they’re back in session, and the whip team has the opportunity to isolate them and pick them off.

But like I said before, Pelosi will have to drop the pimp hand to deliver closer to 160-170 votes to make this pass. And if they Democratic whip operation is not planning on doing that, they’re not planning on winning, IMHO.

Whip Count

Pete Sessions (R-TX) who comes out as a firm nay: “Like most of my constituents, I also do not believe the president’s current plan is in the best interests of the American people or our national security.”

That leaves us with 241 nays, well past the majority of 217.

Mike Simpson (R-ID) lean nay: “Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho says he’s strongly leaning against it.”

Mike McCaul (R-TX) from lean nay to firm nay:  “Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said Thursday if the vote to strike Syria were held that day, he’d vote no.”

Mac Thornberry (R-TX) lean nay:  “[Thornberry] says so far the president’s administration has not made a convincing argument supporting a U.S. attack.”

Tim Walberg (R-MI)  firm nay: “Congressman Walberg says he would vote no on military strikes against Syria

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) from lean nay to lean yea: “A refusal to act in Syria after the president has set such a clear red line will be seen as a green light by the Iranian regime, who will see that we don’t have the will to back up our words.”

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) lean nay: “The ongoing civil war in Syria is heartbreaking, but I have great reservations about intervening in Syria.”

Update 1:11 PM: Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) says he will not vote for action in Syria per CNN.  BIG defection.

The Hill says “Fears of wounding Obama weigh heavily on Democrats.”

Alan Grayson has an OpEd at the NYT: “On Syria Vote, Trust, but Verify.”  Grayson says that members of Congress have only been shown “summaries” of the evidence about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and have been denied access to the underlying data:

Over the last week the administration has run a full-court press on Capitol Hill, lobbying members from both parties in both houses to vote in support of its plan to attack Syria. And yet we members are supposed to accept, without question, that the proponents of a strike on Syria have accurately depicted the underlying evidence, even though the proponents refuse to show any of it to us or to the American public.

EU members evidently has a lower bar of proof than Grayson, or they have been shown evidence that members of Congress have been denied.  Earlier today they agreed that “chemical attack outside Damascus appears to have been the work of Syria’s regime, but that any potential military attack against it should wait for a U.N. inspectors’ report.”

Update 2:09 PM:  Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) from lean nay to firm nay:  “Syria: At this point I don’t see a clear & present danger to the USA. Planning to vote NO to war.”

Update 2:35 PM:  CNN is showing horrifying videos of people dying that were apparently shown to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

UN weapons inspector David Kay says that these videos are consistent with a sarin gas attack, but he doesn’t go by videos.  He says the inspectors are still being denied the underlying intelligence data on the attacks that they had access to in Iraq, which they used to make their determinations.

Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard says that most GOP opposition comes from lack of confidence in Obama, not a belief in non-interventionism.

Update 3:19 PM:  Looking over the very good & very helpful Washington Post whip chart, and where our numbers differ.

They have Austin Scott (R-GA) as a “lean no.”  The quote I went by is from NPR:  “Scott told constituents he doesn’t plan to support the resolution authorizing U.S. military strikes in Syria.”  I assigned him to the “firm no.”

They have Bill Young (R-FL) as “undecided.”  I have him as a “lean nay” based on this interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

They also have Brett Guthrie as “undecided.”  I have him as a lean nay based on this quote: “I think I should get to Washington and hear what they have to say and then make that decision. But what I’ve heard, I’m not willing to go for it.”

Likewise Dave Camp (R-MI) “said he has yet to be convinced that military intervention in Syria makes sense.”  They have him in the “undecided” camp but I put him in the “lean nay.”

Overall however the numbers are not dissimilar and it’s been really helpful to consult their chart when trying to make a judgement call.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the data for each member of Congress that we’ve used to make our assignments documented and linked to on the Firedoglake Syria Whip Count Page.  If you have any disagreement with any of our judgment calls, or more recent information, please let us know in the comments.

Update 5:55 pm:  The Hill has an article up entitled “Congressional Veterans Line Up Against Military Action in Syria.” As my hillbilly cousins would say, feature that.

Mark Pocan (R-WI) moves from lean nay to firm nay based on comments he made at the Fighting Bob Fest today: “Pocan’s promise to vote against a U.S. military strike against Syria was met with loud applause.”

Historically anti-war Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin has still not announced which way she will vote, but promised to “press President Barack Obama for information and ask tough questions as the debate continues.” O-kay.

I’m moving Ron Barber (D-AZ) into the “undecided” column.  Think Progress has him there, and it’s possible I interpreted his statements as more negative than they were meant.  He wants to be sure Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons attack, but apparently believes action may be inevitable:

America has stood up and told the Syrian regime “no,” when it comes to using chemical weapons, Barber said, adding it now appears the U.S. may have to do it without allied support.

That may even put him as a “lean yes.” I’ll watch his comments for the next few days to see if they get any clearer.