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Jane Harman

Congress expected to avoid vote on military action in Iraq, Syria

President Obama on Tuesday began a bid to convince congressional leaders — and the American people — of his strategy to defeat Islamic militants. But partisan divisions and political sensitivities in Congress make it unlikely lawmakers will agree on even a symbolic vote, much less exercise their legal authority to approve military action.

Congressional leaders, who were briefed at the White House before a planned prime-time presidential address Wednesday, have calculated that, with the midterm election just weeks away, lawmakers have little to gain from putting themselves on the record with a vote.

Despite rising public support for a muscular military posture,...