Conservatives have increased references to overall military spending in recent days when commenting on the Syria situation.
"I have watched what's happened in the last 4 1/2 years with the president downgrading our military," Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN on Friday. "And it's to the point where we're in a position right now where we don't have the assets to get involved in another intervention."
He warned that firing cruise missiles at Syria would inevitably lead to greater involvement and that administration officials must "make sure that you tell us how you're going to pay for it, what resources you're going to use, what assets you're going to use and that they're there."
GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, argued Monday for a bigger mission than the limited strikes Obama has said he has been considering.
"It does us no good to just lob a few missiles into Syria," Pompeo said. "This is in the context of an Iranian-backed enterprise with Bashar al-Assad, with Hezbollah. You have al Qaeda now having the ability to move on the ground and perhaps get chemical weapons. America has interests that are much more broad than some short strike could possibly accomplish and so we need a strategic vision with real definable and achievable goals."
The administration's "flood the zone" strategy
Obama and his team also emphasize the national security angle when arguing for a military response to what they call a major chemical weapons attack by al-Assad's regime on August 21 on Damascus suburbs.
The president, along with Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, was making phone calls to House and Senate members to try to firm up commitments ahead of the congressional vote.
A conference call with House Democrats also was planned as part of what a senior administration official called a strategy to "flood the zone." In the calls, the official said, the White House will be making the same case it did during a classified Capitol Hill briefing Sunday.
The argument is that failure to take action against Syria would undermine the deterrent of international action against chemical weapons use, emboldening al-Assad and his key allies -- Hezbollah and Iran -- who will see a lack of consequences for such a flagrant violation.
On the administration side, there is no mention -- yet -- of the military budget.