President Barack Obama will take his case for military action in Syria directly to the American people next week, stepping up his campaign to convince a deeply skeptical Congress to back strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Obama's address to the nation from the White House on Tuesday will be part of a rejuvenated lobbying effort on Syria as Congress returns to Washington next week. A Democratic congressional aide said the administration is planning "a full-court press" aimed at undecided lawmakers.
Speaking in Russia at the conclusion of the G20 summit, Obama acknowledged on Friday he faces an uphill fight to build public and congressional support for a military response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons.
Early vote counts in Congress do not look encouraging for Obama, with scores of lawmakers still undecided about whether to authorize a military strike after the president said last week he would seek their approval. Opinion polls show a war-weary public strongly opposes U.S. action in Syria.
"In terms of the votes and the process in Congress, I knew this was going to be a heavy lift," Obama told reporters in St. Petersburg.
"I understand the skepticism. I think it is very important, therefore, for us to work through, systematically, making the case to every senator and every member of Congress. And that's what we're doing," he said.
Administration officials have given public testimony and daily closed-door briefings on Syria this week to members of Congress, who remain concerned that even limited strikes could draw the United States into a prolonged war and spark broader hostilities in the region.
The briefings will resume on Monday, and the White House hopes support will grow as more members of Congress get classified briefings.
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, known for her ability to gather votes in her caucus, told Democrats in a letter on Friday there would be two meetings next week of Democratic members with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
"There will be a full-court press from the administration and those undecided Democratic members in particular are going to be getting multiple calls from administration officials, including the