By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News
A leading skeptic of U.S. intervention in conflicts abroad said Sunday that he believes there is only a "50/50" chance that the GOP-controlled House will vote to authorize the use of U.S military force in the Syria.
"I think it's at least 50/50 whether the House will vote down involvement in the Syrian war," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said on NBC's Meet the Press.
"I think the Senate will rubber stamp what [Obama] wants but I think the House will be a much closer vote," he added. "And there are a lot of questions we have to ask."
Paul, a staunch defender of civil liberties who has battled against members of his own party over the government's use of drones and NSA data collection programs, said he believes it's a "mistake" to get involved in a civil war in Syria that could escalate "out of control."
But he praised President Barack Obama's announcement Saturday that he will seek congressional authority for military intervention in the civil war-torn country.
Other influential GOP leaders also indicated Sunday that Obama may lose the vote.
"“I think it is going to be difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there's going to be time over the next nine days for opposition to build up to it,” said New York Rep. Peter King on Fox News Sunday. King, who sharply criticized Obama on Friday for "abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief" for seeking congressional authorization, said Congress would "probably" reject authorization if the vote was held today.
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said he does not believe Congress will authorize the strike.
But the Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee said he believes the authorization will ultimately pass.
"I think at the end of the day, Congress will rise to the occasion,” Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan said on CNN. “This is a national security issue. This isn’t about Barack Obama versus the Congress. This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press that he believes Congress will vote to authorize military action, but he would not say if the president will act regardless of the outcome of the debate on Capitol HIll.
"I said that the president has the authority to act, but the Congress is going to do what's right here," he said.
Shortly after Kerry's appearance on the program, Paul shot back at Kerry, a decorated war veteran who became an outspoken critic of Vietnam War after serving in that conflict.
"I see a young John Kerry who went to war, and I wish he remembered more of how awful war is and that it shouldn't be a desired outcome," Paul said.
First published September 1 2013, 7:35 AM