Which is the smart call, by the way.
The House could push back a vote on a resolution authorizing military strikes on Syria by as long as a week, according to a memo Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sent to Republican lawmakers Friday.
“Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action,” Cantor wrote in a memo outlining the House GOP’s fall agenda. “Members should expect a robust debate and vote on an authorization of use of military force pertaining to Syria in the next two weeks.”
Right now Harry Reid is looking at 'double-digit defections.' For those following at home, that means that Reid currently doesn't have enough supporters to win final passage of a Syria AUMF with only Democratic votes and he probably doesn't enough votes to win a cloture vote, period. And Harry Reid has decided - for reasons known best to himself - to set this up as needing sixty votes to pass. Under the circumstances, failure in the Senate would pretty much be win-win-win for House leadership: they played nice with the President, the bill didn't pass - and it would all be because Harry Reid isn't up to the task of being Senate Majority Leader*. Even a pass in the Senate - and it's still safe to bet that Reid will find something that he can use to get to sixty - doesn't actually hurt, given that the House vote is thoroughly scrambled at this point. Media bias problems aside, it's going to be hard to blame either a yes or a no Syria vote on the Republicans. Too many liberals digging in their heels and voting no on this one for that trick to work.
The real kicker in all of this is that, strategically, it doesn't matter how any particular Republican votes. Obviously they should all vote as their brains and souls tell them to, but the primary practical worry for all of them is how their constituents will feel about their votes. The anti-interventionist bloc of the GOP is certainly unconcerned about whether their vote 'rebukes' John Boehner (and Boehner, for his part, has not and will not even slightly lean on his caucus). This lack of worry is not shared by the Democrats, who are simultaneously trying to support a rather bad President's bad foreign policy plan AND face down an antiwar movement that has finally snapped like a broken rubber band.
I wish them joy of the experience. Because they kind of earned it.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*If Harry Reid can't get to sixty on a war vote that he didn't have to set at sixty, then - and I am not saying this as a partisan hack - Harry Reid should resign as Senate Majority Leader. Chuck Schumer would, and God help me for saying this, do a better job.