White House to Brief Key Members of Congress on Syria
One week since the Syrian government purportedly utilized chemical weapons on civilians and oppositions forces near Damascus, the White House is set to provide a briefing for bipartisan members of congressional leadership as well as the top ranking members of national security committees on Thursday, multiple congressional sources confirmed to ABC News.
The teleconference briefing, which is not expected to include classified information, is set for 6:00 p.m., several sources said. Lawmakers are expected to call in for the briefing rather than attend in person because members of Congress are traveling throughout the country and abroad during the summer recess, which does not end until Sept. 9.
It is not immediately clear which administration officials will conduct the briefing, or whether President Obama will participate in the discussion.
Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner fired off a letter to the president to complain that initial outreach by the administration to members of Congress in the last several days has "not reached the level of substantive consultation."
"I respectfully request that you, as our country's commander-in-chief, personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America's credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in the letter. "It is essential you address on what basis any use of force would be legally justified and how the justification comports with the exclusive authority of Congressional authorization under Article I of the Constitution."
Wednesday, a bipartisan coalition of 116 lawmakers in the House sent a letter to Obama demanding that he acquire congressional authorization prior to the use of any U.S. military force in Syria.
Boehner also requested that the president clearly articulate his objectives, policy and strategy for any potential intervention in Syria, noting that "it will take that public support and congressional will to sustain the Administration's efforts."
"It will take Presidential leadership and a clear explanation of our policy, our interests, and our objectives to gain public and Congressional support for any military action against Syria," Boehner added. "After spending the last 12 years fighting those who seek to harm our fellow citizens, our interests, and our allies, we all have a greater appreciation of what it means for our country to enter into conflict."