On Syria Vote, Nancy Pelosi Loses Liberal California Base

FILE - In this June 27, 2013 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capi
FILE - In this June 27, 2013 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Obama administration?s abrupt delay of the health insurance mandate for employers saves Democrats a major re-election headache in next year's midterm contests. But it does boost the underlying Republican complaint: The health care law is unworkable and Congress should repeal it. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Since President Barack Obama announced that he would seek Congress' support for use of force against Syria last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been tasked with garnering crucial Democratic support for the attack.

But if recent comments from delegates representing the San Francisco Bay area -- Pelosi's loyal base -- are any indication, even staunch supporters may not be behind her on this one.

"I have tremendous respect for Nancy Pelosi as a leader, as a person, as an intellect," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But I cannot ever delegate my decision to her."

Wary of what some consider another rushed call to war with no clear end in sight, many California Democrats have expressed reluctance to support an attack.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Fairfield) told The Huffington Post that while next week's briefings could potentially provide him with information to sway his decision, he currently does not support the move.

"I'm leaning no for a dozen reasons," he told HuffPost. "It's not at all clear that this bombing could have the effect of restraining [Syria's president, Bashar] Assad, and it could result in weapons becoming available to rebel groups."

Garamendi was, however, quick to defend Pelosi. "I'm sure she's made a very careful decision, and the fact that I am disagreeing with her now does not at all diminish respect for her," he said.

Garamendi was one of 60 lawmakers who signed a letter authored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) calling for a full congressional debate on the issue.

"We must learn the lessons of the past. Lessons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others," Lee said in a statement. "We must recognize that what happens in Syria does not stay in Syria; the implications for the region are dire."

A spokesperson for Oakland-area Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) told HuffPost the freshman is undecided, which gives Pelosi at least a chance of winning his vote. Swalwell won his seat thanks in part to California's new primary system; the incumbent he unseated, Pete Stark, would have certainly voted no.

But other delegates have clearly stated their opposition -- debate or none.

"I remain opposed to any military involvement in Syria," wrote Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) in a statement. "I am concerned that immersing ourselves into another nation's civil war would prove to be both a costly and timely endeavor; one that we can ill afford to make on the heels of two of the longest wars in our country's history. Another prolonged war would leave us weak strategically while simultaneously increasing the suffering of the Syrian people."

As criticism for the attack builds among delegates, the role of recruiting support could put Pelosi -- who called the Iraq war a "grotesque mistake"-- in a tough spot.

The debate puts Pelosi in somewhat of a tough spot, as the Democratic leader has often touted Democratic opposition to the Iraq War as a central distinction between the parties. Now, with a Democratic president urging Congress to authorize an unpopular attack in the same region, Obama is counting on Pelosi to deliver the votes.

Congress will meet for briefings and discussion next week, but at the time of publication, support for the attack was low across the board:




Syria War In August (Warning: Graphic Images)