By Alexander Bolton - 09/03/13 05:33 PM EDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell Iran and heavy water: Five things to know Overnight Finance: House rejects financial adviser rule; Obama rebukes Sanders on big banks MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday did not offer support for a military strike against Syria.
In a stark contrast with GOP leaders in the House, McConnell voiced skepticism about a strike and said Obama needed to explain more to Congress and the public.
McConnell is up for reelection in 2014 and is facing a tough Tea Party challenge from the right.
Fellow Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulOvernight Energy: Clinton makes her pitch to coal country Rand Paul calls on Clinton to apologize for coal job losses Five ways Trump will attack Clinton MORE opposes military intervention in Syria, something that may be weighing on McConnell.
Senate Republicans said the president needs to do a better job explaining his rationale for a military strike in the wake of chemical weapons attacks outside of Damascus.
The GOP skepticism means that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell Reid: Cruz, Lee on Supreme Court should 'scare you' Reid 'fairly certain' Democrats will win Senate MORE (D-Nev.) will have to rely heavily on his own caucus to pass a resolution authorizing force.
This could force him to corral skeptical liberals like Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphyCory Booker is Clinton secret weapon Dem fears Iran nuke deal gives license to back Saudis Tensions high as Obama preps Saudi Arabia trip MORE (D-Conn.), who have expressed concern about another military action in the Middle East.
McConnell’s deputy, Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights First US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico MORE (Texas), also voiced misgivings about a limited strike against the military forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“What the president can do is to make the case to the American people. It’s important that he bring Congress in but he needs to make the case to the American people and that case hasn’t been made yet,” Cornyn told reporters.
Cornyn said a limited military strike might have a counterproductive effect.
“If it is so targeted and so limited it may have the opposite effect than the president intends,” he said. “It may be viewed as so insignificant that it actually emboldens other international bullies.”
Sen. Jim RischJim RischSen. Cory Gardner endorses Cruz GOP lawmakers vie for convention power GOP senator on endorsing Cruz: 'I guess it depends on your definition' MORE (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “extremely reluctant” to authorize a strike on Libya.
But Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerIran and heavy water: Five things to know Trump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags The Trail 2016: The establishment comes around MORE (Tenn.), the top ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations panel, predicted enough Republicans would support an authorization resolution to pass it through the Senate with at least 60 votes.
Corker said Obama needs to make a broader argument for why it is important to support rebel fighters in Syria and why the conflict is important to U.S. national security.
“I have a strong sense that we will be able to come to terms fairly quickly with what an authorization ought to say,” Corker said of his talks with Senate Democratic leaders over an authorization of force resolution.
This story was updated at 1:58 p.m.