A top national security adviser told NPR on Friday morning that President Obama is unlikely to launch a military strike against Syria absent Congressional approval.
Appearing on Morning Edition, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken argued that “the president has authority to act” if Congress votes down the Syria resolution, but “it’s neither his desire nor intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.” Listen:
Since President Obama announced that he would seek Congressional authority last Saturday, administration officials have launched a full court press to convince lawmakers that limited military force in Syria will deter President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons and enforce international norms.
“The U.S. policy is that we want Assad to leave office through the Geneva communique process that has already been agreed on, which the Russians have signed up to, whereby there is a transition government put in place with the mutual consent of the opposing parties,” Secretary of State John Kerry told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday. “But you can’t get there while Assad is in the state of belief that he is able to gas and — and massacre the people of Syria into defeat, he will not negotiate.”
A ThinkProgress analysis of the public statements of 407 Representatives found that 213 lawmakers have either decisively ruled out supporting the measure or say they are unlikely to back it. Just 44 of the 400 members of the House of Representatives said they will definitely or likely vote in favor or the resolution. Meanwhile, two Democratic senators are circulating a compromise resolution that “would give the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the threat of “all elements” of U.S. military power.”
Congress is expected to vote on the matter the week of Sep. 9.
Asked if he would act without Congressional approval on Friday, Obama said he wouldn’t speculate on how he might act. He added that he took the question to Congress because Assad’s use of chemical weapons was not an imminent threat to the U.S. or its allies.