Boehner, Pelosi Back Obama's Call for Action Against Syria
House Speaker John Boehner this morning offered his support for President Obama's request that Congress authorize a military strike against Syria and urged his colleagues to do the same.
"This is something that the United States, as a country, needs to do. I'm going to support the president's call for action. I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action," the speaker told reporters, as he emerged from a White House meeting with the president.
"The use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated," he said, in a brief statement. "We have enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it's necessary."
Speaking after the meeting with the president, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered her support for military intervention in Syria but said the American people "need to hear more" from Obama about the intelligence that supports this action.
"I am hopeful that the American people are persuaded that this action happened, that Assad did it, that hundreds of children were killed. This is behavior outside the circle of civilized human behavior, and we must respond," she told reporters at the White House.
Asked if she's ready to get her membership on board with the president's request, Pelosi said: "It's not a question of whipping; it's a question of discussing with our members, hearing their views."
"It's a question of discussing to make sure that people [get] the information that they need to make an informed decision, to make sure that they have the full value of the intelligence that says this is how this happened," she said.
Moments later, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, hinted that the president is considering a more comprehensive military strategy and expressed confidence that the United States' message would be heard "loud and clear."
"The president made it clear to us that he's not talking about a pinpoint strike; he's talking about a strike that has some teeth," he told reporters. "He's talking about a strike that sends primarily the message that weapons of mass destruction, gassing your own people, is unacceptable, but also a message that tells Assad that we're not just going to let him stay where he is and continue to wreak havoc and rain terror on his people."
"We think that this message won't be ignored," he added.
Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also voiced that she is "fully supportive of the president's action."
"My hope is that members left this meeting with a great sense of purpose, and that purpose is to get this passed in both houses," she said.
President Obama said Saturday that the U.S. should pursue military intervention against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for use of chemical weapons in that country's civil war, but only after his administration seeks approval from Congress.
The president said he hoped Congress will debate and vote on a U.S. strike when members return from their summer recess, scheduled to end Sept. 9.
"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective," Obama said from the White House's Rose Garden. "We should have this debate.
"This attack is an assault on human dignity," the president added. "It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons or their proliferation to terrorist groups who'd do our people harm. In a world with many dangers this menace must be confronted."
With reporting by ABC News Matthew Larotonda