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Many Lawmakers Remain Skeptical of Syria Strike After Briefings

Oleg Albinsky/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After Sunday's briefing, many members of Congress remain skeptical of the proposed military action in Syria.

More than 70 members of the House and Senate were briefed in a windowless room in the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Sunday. The lawmakers were informed of the intelligence evidence regarding an incident last month in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allegedly used sarin gas on his own people.

Despite statements from Secretary of State John Kerry saying that the U.S. had evidence of sarin in hair and blood samples from victims of the attack, many lawmakers remain unsure.

Janice Hahn, D-Cal., said that a military response in Syria would be "a very serious step that we'll be taking." She also pointed out that whether Congress opts to support or deny military action, the decision will have consequences either way.

Sandy Levin, D-Mich., however, supports President Obama's position that military action is necessary. "The Syrian government engaged. They crossed a red line. It's a red line that was began to be drawn a hundred years ago."

This weekend's briefings were set up after Obama decided to opt for Congressional approval before ordering military strikes in Syria.

According to White House officials, the decision to seek Congressional approval was Obama’s alone — none of his senior aides pushed for it — in fact they were surprised when he brought it up because it had not even been part of the discussion on what to do. Several top advisors to the president raised concerns, fearing the vote might fail.

But faced with the prospect of ordering military action not only without UN approval but without even the British, President Obama simply decided he did not want to act alone — he wants to put Congress on the record supporting his decision.

The congressional debate on authorizing the strike is expected to begin when members return to session on Sept. 9.

White House officials say that even though the president is seeking Congressional authorization, he does not rule out striking Syria even if he loses the vote in Congress.

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