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Peter King, Steve Israel push House backing of strike on Syria

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Steve Israel and Republican Rep. Peter King said Wednesday they're working their sides of the aisle to win votes for what's expected to be a close U.S. House vote on whether to back a military strike on Syria for the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons.

The vote could come as soon as next week, when Congress returns from its summer recess, lawmakers said. The measure faces opposition from anti-war and liberal Democrats, and libertarian and tea party Republicans.

To win over reluctant lawmakers, particularly a majority of Democrats who will be needed to pass the resolution, Israel, of Huntington, said he's working on narrowing the authorization to use military force.

King, of Seaford, said he plans to talk to Republicans who might be wavering.

"Right now, I am pretty certain there are not 218 votes to take action in Syria in the House," said King, a member of the Intelligence Committee.

"I think that there are 218 members who should support this," he added. "It's up to the president, and it's up to Republicans who feel strongly about this to talk to other members, which I will be doing."

Israel, a member of the House Democratic leadership who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said it is "too early to tell" how the vote will go.

Most members are still in their districts and haven't gone to classified briefings on Syria, he said. Besides, the resolution's final language hasn't been written.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its version of the resolution 10-7 Wednesday. It will be taken up on the Senate floor next week.

"I think it has the precepts of what I'm trying to pass in the House," Israel said.

He said his version would include a prohibition of U.S. "boots on the ground"; a deadline for the military action to be completed; and a requirement that any military operation is completely and precisely focused on degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capabilities.

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