Three top Obama officials begin another round Wednesday in their campaign to sway Congress to support the president's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey return to the Hill, this time to be grilled by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The three sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for three and a half hours Tuesday, taking questions on whether American troops would be committed to the effort and how successful the punitive strikes would be in deterring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons again.
Some 43 lawmakers in the House and the Senate now say they can get behind Obama. But about three-fourths remain undecided or haven't announced how they plan to vote.
Here are the developments:
4:15 p.m. ET -- Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, says if the vote were held today, he would vote "yes."
4:12 p.m. ET -- Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, asked the panel to explain how Syria's use of chemical weapons is worse than its use of conventional weapons, which have killed more people there. It's a question CNN asked itself last week and found that many experts believe chemical weapons are different because of the torturous deaths and injuries they cause.
4 p.m. ET -- Several congressmen seem concerned with the veracity of the Obama administration's intelligence indicating that Syria has deployed chemical weapons. They're not alone. Journalists are gun shy, too, after the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction fiasco. The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone discussed the media's caution with CNN last month.
3:49 p.m. ET -- Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, asks what precedent does the U.S. establish if it doesn't act.
"We'd be walking away from responsibility," Kerry says. "It would have a profound impact on people's judgments of what we're willing to stand up for and what we're not willing to stand up for."
3:42 p.m. ET -- Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, brings up Benghazi. Kerry says it's "not a backburner issue."
"In an appropriate setting, I'd be delighted to share with you exactly what is going on," Kerry says, adding it's a priority for the administration.
3:34 p.m. ET -- Perry asks if the president will abide by Congress' decision, whether they vote for or against the authorization.
Kerry says he can't answer for the president, but Obama has made it clear that he maintains the right to act unilaterally.
3:32 p.m. ET -- Scott Perry, R- Pennsylvania, asks Kerry if he considers sarin gas a weapon of mass destruction. Kerry says "yes." Perry asks about VX gas. Kerry says "yes."
"Ok, so, those two were used in Iraq, found in Iraq before I got there and found in Iraq when I got there--for those who say the past administration lied about weapons of mass destruction," Perry says.
3:27 p.m. ET -- BREAKING: CNN's Ted Barrett reports the authorization passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The final vote was 10-7 with one senator voting present.
No votes were:
Tom Udall, D-New Mexico
Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
James Risch, R-Idaho
Marco Rubio, R-Florida
Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin
John Barrasso, R-Wyoming
Rand Paul, R-Kentucky
Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts (Kerry's successor)
3:23 p.m. ET -- On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has started holding a final vote on the resolution.
3:14 p.m. ET -- Rep. George Holding, R- North Carolina, asks Dempsey if Russia would be capable or willing to strike the U.S. in retaliation for the U.S. using force in Syria, a close ally of Russia. Dempsey says "it would not be helpful in this setting to speculate about that," adding that's something they can discuss in a classified setting.
Kerry points to Russia's foreign minister, who has indicated they're not willing to go to war over Syria.
3:05 p.m. ET -- A lot of questions are being asked about the U.S. endgame and how America hopes to achieve it. Maj. Gen. James Marks spoke to CNN's Piers Morgan last month about that very issue. He, too, seemed to think the overall objective was being omitted.
3 p.m. ET -- Calling his decision a "miracle of miracles," Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, says he supports the president's proposal to take action in Syria. The freshman congressman is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton says he would also like to see a regime change.
2:57 p.m. ET -- Though Dempsey is downplaying the possibility of a Hezbollah or Syria retaliatory strike on U.S. assets abroad, CNN reported this week that the U.S. had beefed up security ahead of a possible Syria strike.
2:54 p.m. ET -- Rep. Adam Kinzinger , R-Illinois, discusses Obama critics' assertion that attacking Syria will make the U.S. "al Qaeda's air force." CNN's Nic Robertson earlier this year looked into reports that the strongest rebel group had ties to the terror organization.
2:37 p.m. ET -- Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, also slams the Obama administration for being quick to want to intervene in Syria, but was "reluctant" to act quickly to rescue the four Americans who died in the terrorist attack against a U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year. Duncan questions whether the "power of the executive branch is so intoxicating" to steer Kerry away from his normally cautious self and pull the trigger "so quickly."
Kerry, clearly aggravated, takes issue with Duncan's premise that Kerry routinely advocates caution. "I volunteered to fight for my country, and that wasn't a cautious thing to do when I did it."
When Duncan tries to interrupt, Kerry shoots back: "I'm going to finish, congressman."
"When I was in the United States Senate, I supported military action in any number of locations, including Grenada, Panama, I could run a list of them. I am not going to sit here and be told by you I don't have a sense of what the judgment is with respect to this. We're talking about people being killed by gas, and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious."
Duncan replies: "Absolutely I want to talk about it." He holds up a photo of one of the slain SEALs in Benghazi.
Kerry argues the Obama administration has been acting cautiously, which is why the president waited until he had more evidence to make his decision.