House leader: expect Syria vote within two weeks

The US House Republican leader told his caucus Friday to expect a vote on authorization of the use of force in Syria within the next two weeks.

In an internal memo to fellow Republican members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy schedule in the months ahead, including debate and a vote on whether to give President Barack Obama the green light to launch a punishing military strike on the Syrian regime.

"Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action," Cantor said in the memo.

"Members should expect a robust debate and vote on an authorization of use of military force pertaining to Syria in the next two weeks."

Leaders in the Senate, which is controlled by members of Obama's Democratic Party, have said they expect a full vote next week on a resolution authorizing the use of force.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday narrowly approved a limited strike on President Bashar al-Assad's regime, restricting the operation to 60 days with a possible 30 day extension and barring US boots on the ground in a combat role.

Obama faces a massive challenge in getting a deeply divided Congress to back his effort to punish Syria for what he says was the Assad regime's deadly use of chemical weapons against its own people last month.

House lawmakers and aides say privately that the president does not yet have the votes in the chamber, despite backing from leaders of both parties.

Obama said he will address the American people on the issue of Syria on Tuesday.