WASHINGTON - Military intervention in Syria continued to face skepticism on Capitol Hill even after the public release of an intelligence assessment linking the regime to chemical attacks.
"As we have said, if the president believes this information makes a military response imperative, it is his responsibility to explain to Congress and the American people the objectives, strategy and legal basis for any potential action," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "We - and the American people - look forward to more answers from the White House."
Some lawmakers supported the White House view that evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons is compelling.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the unclassified report released by the White House "tracks closely" with classified briefings that congressional leaders have been privy to.
She said the remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry "should stir the conscience of the world."
"I agree with Secretary Kerry that the world cannot let such a heinous attack pass without a meaningful response, and I hope the international community will take appropriate action," she said in a statement.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the response shouldn't be "merely cosmetic."
"Unfortunately, it does not appear that the response to this historic atrocity being contemplated by the Obama Administration will be equal to the gravity of the crime itself," he said in a statement with Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C..
After being briefed by the White House Friday afternoon, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., urged a more cautious response. He said Obama should wait for United Nations inspectors to complete their investigation of the chemical attacks. In the meantime, the administration should work with allies -- including those in the Arab world -- to put pressure on the regime and put weapons in the hands of the opposition. "Doing so can change the balance militarily and also contribute to a political solution in Syria," Levin said.
Among the rank-and-file, lawmakers in both parties said they had unanswered questions.
"American involvement in Syria means articulating America's security interests. POTUS has failed to do so. Need approval from Congress," tweeted Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.
If the Obama administration is making a case to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons, is it "fair to ask where weapons originated & who manufactured?" tweeted Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla.
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said he found the language of the intelligence report awkward. The report said "regime officials" - not Assad - "were witting of" a chemical attack. "One could reasonably ask the question, 'What did Assad know, and when did he know it?' And if you ask that question, you'll be met with a stony silence," Grayson said on MSNBC. "We could have a situation here where there was literally a loose cannon who decided to undertake this."
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a champion of Tea Party groups, tweeted, "If the president can't convince Congress that Syria crisis threatens our national security, military intervention should be off the table."
Dozens of members of Congress have circulated a letter arguing that Obama should not launch military action without first getting congressional approval. The White House has been careful to say that it is consulting closely with Congress, but not that Obama would seek a vote of approval.