First Read Flash: Coaxing Congress

Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Jeff Flake , R-Ariz., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R...
Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Jeff Flake , R-Ariz., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R...
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

SYRIA: Military authorization passes 10-7 out of Senate committee

NBC News: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday voted to give President Barack Obama the power to a launch a military attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons. The vote was 10-7. It marked the first time in more than a decade — since a 2002 resolution that preceded the Iraq war — that members of Congress have voted to authorize military action.”

Newly-elected Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D) voted “present,” and the Boston Globe dives into his puzzling vote. “Markey’s decision to vote ‘present’ meant that he did not support the cause being pushed aggressively by President Obama – and by Secretary of State John Kerry, who for nearly three decades held the Senate seat that Markey now occupies. Markey said that the resolution was too broadly written and allowed for the potential that the United States would become far more entangled in the Syrian conflict.”

Politico: “President Barack Obama faced a heavy lift in Congress this fall when his agenda included only budget issues and immigration reform. Now with Syria in the mix, the president appears ready to spend a lot of the political capital that he would have kept in reserve for his domestic priorities.

New York Times: “Congressional Democrats, torn over involving the United States in another unpredictable Middle East war, are emerging as a major barrier to President Obama’s plan to strike Syria. Many of the president’s core supporters, especially African-Americans and members of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing who voted repeatedly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are expressing the deepest reservations. With rank-and-file House Republicans showing little inclination to back Mr. Obama on an issue on which he has staked his political credibility, scores of Democratic votes will be needed if a resolution authorizing force against Syria is to pass the House.”

Roll Call looks at 20 House members to keep an eye on during the Syria vote.

HEALTH CARE: ‘Secretary of Explaining Stuff’ Clinton overshadowed by foreign events

Los Angeles Times: “Opening a new phase of the White House campaign to sell the public on the nation’s new healthcare program, former President Clinton sought to clear up confusion about it Wednesday and called on the law’s opponents to help smooth its implementation for the good of their constituents…At a crucial juncture a few weeks before the Oct. 1 opening of the law’s health insurance marketplaces across the country, Clinton scolded Republicans who have voted to repeal the law more than 40 times, arguing that they have not offered ‘real alternatives.’”

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Opposition to Obamacare has united the GOP for the past four years, but now it’s threatening to become a central fault line in the party’s simmering civil war.  While still unified on philosophical grounds against President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, Republicans are no longer using ‘Obamacare’ to pummel Democrats so much as each other. The divide exists between Republicans engaged in a crusade to repeal the law at all costs and those resigned to accept a government program three years into its implementation.”

FEDERAL RESERVE: Summers remains Obama favorite

New York Times: “As President Obama turned to second-term job openings soon after his re-election, the topic one day in the Oval Office was probably the most important economic decision he would make: Who should succeed the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, after 2013? The president’s preference: His former economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers.”

Washington Post: “As Summers’s candidacy has vaulted to the forefront this summer, his record has produced two vastly different assessments. Critics cannot believe Obama would nominate Summers, who they say helped sow the seeds of the financial crisis while in the Clinton administration, insulted women as president of Harvard University and alienated colleagues at the White House…The answer, according to many people who saw their relationship up close, is that Obama developed great faith in the man who was his top economic adviser as he confronted historic crises at the beginning of his presidency.”

AT THE RACES: NRSC replaces its finance director after lackluster fundraising

Washington Examiner: “In a major staff shakeup, the National Republican Senatorial Committee will sideline its finance director after falling behind Democrats in fundraising during the first half of the year. Shelly Carson, finance director since January, will remain on the NRSC’s payroll, but her role at the committee will diminish considerably…. Heather Larrison, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Larrison Group, will take over Carson’s management and operations duties, a source familiar with the decision said. Larrison is an ally of Sen. Rob Portman, the NRSC vice chairman, and has done fundraising for him in the past.”

The Washington Post takes a look at “Heritage Action for America, the new advocacy arm of the venerable Heritage Foundation that is emerging as one of the most pugilistic forces on the right….The shift toward political activism has dismayed some longtime Heritage scholars; more than half a dozen have left in recent months. “

KENTUCKY: The Hill: “Democrats are demanding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemn a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman’s characterization of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as ‘an empty dress.’ The campaign of Lundergan Grimes, the leading Democrat challenging McConnell in 2014, has decried the remark as ‘degrading and offensive.’”

Lexington Herald Leader: Grimes “ducked questions Wednesday about American military intervention in Syria….Later, Grimes’ campaign sent out a statement calling the massacre of Syrian civilians “reprehensible” and saying that Grimes is ‘continuing to monitor the situation closely.’” McConnell “remains noncommittal for the moment.”

MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Globe: “Charles D. Baker, shedding the outraged tone he struck in his first run for governor in 2010, officially launched his second campaign for the office this morning with a video in which he describes himself as a loving family man with deep roots in Massachusetts….Baker, who was a top official in the administrations of governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, never mentions that he is a Republican in the video. Instead, he says he wants to provide ‘bipartisan leadership focused on growing our economy,’ and, if elected in 2014, will promote small businesses, and work to improve schools and public safety.”

MICHIGAN: Roll Call: “Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan officially has a primary on his hands. Attorney David Trott announced Wednesday morning his primary challenge against Bentivolio, a freshman who won his first term amid the chaos created when former Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter abruptly resigned from Congress in 2012.”

VIRGINIA: Washington Post: “Tom Steyer – a San Francisco-based financier who previously put $400,000 behind an ad attacking” Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli “for his legal efforts against then-University of Virginia climate researcher Michael Mann — is upping the stakes. NextGen Climate Action Committee, a super PAC bankrolled by Steyer, is putting roughly $500,000 into a new ad that makes a broad attack on the ethics of Cuccinelli, who is squaring off against businessman Terry McAuliffe (D).”

And McAuliffe released a new TV ad on Wednesday, hitting Cuccinelli over his work with fathers’ rights groups.

WYOMING: The Hill: “Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) remains undecided on military intervention in Syria, a more cautious position than his primary challenger Liz Cheney, who said Tuesday she’s opposed. The vote could ultimately provide Cheney with an opening among conservatives, as the far-right wing of the GOP seems largely opposed to intervention and, on most issues, Enzi has a strong conservative record.”

First Read Flash: Coaxing Congress