john kerry

Secretary of State, John Kerry

*(Via LA Times) – Key lawmakers in both parties endorsed President Obama‘s call for a punitive strike on Syria, giving momentum to his drive to win authorization from Congress as it began the most momentous debate on the use of military force since the 2002 run-up to the war in Iraq.

Although members of Congress remain deeply split and polls indicate Americans oppose military action, Obama on Tuesday won the backing of the two top House Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. He also picked up the support of the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was already on board.

Late Tuesday, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed on language authorizing U.S. military action against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus, while ruling out the commitment of U.S. ground forces and limiting the window for an attack to 90 days. A committee vote could come as early as Wednesday.

Earlier, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had sought to dispel the concern of some committee members that, as with Iraq, the U.S. was at risk of acting on flawed or exaggerated intelligence, or that the U.S. could be drawn more deeply into Syria’s civil war.

“This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter,” Kerry said.

Read the FULL story at LA Times.