Obama May Not Need Congress to Take Action in Iraq

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

President Obama is considering options to deal with the situation in Iraq that he believes would not require congressional authorization, sources and lawmakers said Wednesday.

In an hour-long meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama met with congressional leadership to discuss potential steps the U.S. might take in Iraq, and one lawmaker who attended the meeting indicated the president said he would not need a vote in Congress to carry out any of the options currently on the table.

"The president briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn't feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take and indicated that he would keep us posted," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, told reporters after the meeting.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying she agrees the president already has the authority for any of the options he is now considering.

"I do not believe the president needs any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today," Pelosi said. "I am pleased by the president's efforts to secure strong Congressional support, and I look forward to additional consultation."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner also participated in the huddle at the White House.

Sources familiar with the meeting said the president told the congressional leaders that if his plans expanded beyond the options now under consideration, he would inform them before taking any action.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would not comment Wednesday on whether the president would need congressional authorization. But he said the Iraqi situation differs from what the president faced in 2013 when he decided to seek congressional authorization before taking action against Syria.

"I would note, at least for the sake of clarity, the differences you would see in those circumstances, where in this case, as someone noted in an earlier question, the sovereign government of Iraq has requested assistance," Carney said.