A look at the Pennsylvania congressional delegation illustrates the daunting challenge President Barack Obama faces in winning lawmakers' support for his call for a punitive strike against Syria.
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is the only state lawmaker who has endorsed the president's call for military action against the Damascus regime.
His Republican colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey, has denounced the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and said it "calls for an American response," but his office cautioned that his stance does not necessarily mean he will support the administration in a vote expected to take place sometime after Mr. Obama's speech to the nation Tuesday night.
In the House, however, the president faces tougher odds among the state's members, as in the chamber as a whole.
As Mr. Obama was about to head home from last week's G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, no House members from Pennsylvania had publicly said they planned to vote with the administration.
By the end of last week, most of the GOP members had issued deeply skeptical statements about the prospect of American action in the conflict, although most insisted they would remain undecided pending further information, from the president's speech and the ongoing rounds of intelligence briefings on Capitol Hill.
In public statements or comments from aides, all five Democrats in the delegation described themselves as undecided. A spokesman for Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, however, couldn't offer much encouragement for he administration.
"The bar for him supporting any military action is pretty high," said Matt Dinkel, an aide to the Pittsburgh-area congressman, who voted against the authorization of the Iraq war in the last administration.
Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Scranton, told a television station in his district last week that he was approaching the vote "with a healthy amount of skepticism."
"Anyone who would rush into a plan to bomb a Middle Eastern country after what we've all been through ... hasn't been paying attention," he said.
Other Western Pennsylvania lawmakers, all Republicans, have greeted the president's call for action with varying degrees so skepticism.
Earlier in the week, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who attended a Labor Day weekend briefing on the issue in Washington, D.C., praised the administration's outreach to Congress, but said he remained undecided.
Freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-McCandless, issued a statement last week that said, "... absent a clear objective for military action, and with no viable opposition on the ground in Syria, President Obama must refrain from the use of force in Syria at this time."
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Blair, insisted he remained open to administration arguments but said in a statement released by his office that he was strongly disinclined to support the Obama initiative.
"I have yet to see a clear argument for punitive missile strikes against Syria, and at this point I am leaning against any military intervention," Mr. Shuster said. "President Obama has yet to articulate a clear objective to be achieved by military intervention, and there has not been a strategy proposed that can assure such actions would prevent further escalation of violence in Syria."
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, issued a carefully worded statement emphasizing the importance and difficulty of the debate before Congress. He has been identified as "leaning no," in several vote projections compiled by some national publications, but an aide insisted last week that "any listing of Rep. Kelly as 'leaning no' is inaccurate. He is still totally undecided."
Several of Mr. Kelly's colleagues from across the state offered deep skepticism that stopped just short of outright commitments against intervention.
Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Delaware County, said the administration had so far failed to satisfy him on key questions on the objectives and likely consequences of a strike.
"The answers to these critical questions and concerns have not been adequately addressed at this point, and the case for military involvement has not been made to me, my constituents, or the American people," he said in a statement issued last Thursday. "My constituents are skeptical and reluctant to be drawn into this conflict -- something that my vote will reflect."
An aide to a Republican in an adjoining district, Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Chester, said his boss should be counted, "firmly in the lean-no category" but said that he would carry an open mind into the intelligence briefings for members this week.
As of late Thursday, he said, the office's constituent call tally was 1,114 opposed and just 18 in favor.
Politics editor James O'Toole: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1562.