Early Reaction: White House Found ‘Life Raft’ In Russia’s Syria Offer

September 9, 2013 3:16 p.m.

President Obama had to pull back on Syria. That’s the initial reaction from Capitol Hill as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote on authorization for military strikes in Syria and Obama signaled he was open to a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Multiple congressional aides conveyed that consenus to TPM on Monday evening, following a dramatic turn of events over the course of the day.

“I think this is the out the admininstration needs, to be honest, because the numbers aren’t here in the House,” a House Democratic aide told TPM.

For most of the day, the White House appeared unclear about whether to endorse or rebuke Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments that the United States would be open to allowing Syria to disband its chemical weapons stockpile to avoid military strikes. The idea was first proposed by the Russian government Monday morning, although President Obama later said he had been discussing that possibility with the Russians for some time.

The president then indicated he was open to such a solution in evening interviews with major news outlets. Almost simultaneously, Reid reversed his plan to file cloture on the Senate’s Syria resolution, which would have set up the first vote on the issue on Wednesday.

The whip counts on a Syria resolution have been increasingly pessimistic for the White House. The consensus from Hill aides, Democrats and Republicans alike, is that the administration must have seen the writing on the wall.

“I think the White House thinks they found a life raft,” a House Republican aide concurred to TPM. “It’s not clear yet if they are right about that.”

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