Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) signaled on Tuesday that he may vote against the resolution to authorize the use of force against Syria, a day after he said it would be “catastrophic” if Congress voted against military action.
Responding to a report Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, the Arizona Republican also expressed disappointment that the United States still hasn’t armed rebels in Syria, indicating that he will vote “no” if the resolution doesn’t go far enough.
“I have to see the concrete action. And it’s not that I don’t trust the word of the president, it’s just that I need to see the concrete measures that are going to be taken,” McCain said on “CBS This Morning.” “And if we don’t take those concrete measures and if the resolution doesn’t allow it, then obviously I can’t support it. It’s almost as bad as not passing a resolution, is passing a resolution that doesn’t allow us to take action that reverses the situation on the battlefield so that Bashar Assad will sooner or later leave. The only way he’s going to leave is if he thinks he’s losing.”
McCain went on to say that it was a mistake for President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval to take action against the Assad regime in Syria.
“Once he announced that we were going to have strikes, I think he should have acted, as other presidents have, both Republican or Democrat,” McCain said. “But it is what it is. The word of the President of the United States is out there in the world that we will not stand him crossing a red line. And not only did he say that, he said that there would be strikes against those persecutors, obviously that’s Assad. So then for the United States to do nothing will have a ripple effect all over the world.”
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met with Obama on Monday as part of the administration’s efforts to build congressional support for the resolution. After the meeting, McCain acknowledged that it will be “harder” for Obama to intervene in Syria if Congress does not approve the resolution. Graham said he emerged from the meeting “feeling better” about the U.S. strategy toward Syria than he did prior to the meeting.