Fox News on August 31, 2013, reported that President Obama apparently is leaving the door open to moving ahead with a military strike on Syria even if Congress votes against it, adding to the confusion over the president’s evolving position.
The president, in a surprise decision on August 31, announced he would seek a vote in Congress on launching a military attack against the Assad regime.
One senior State Department official, though, told Fox News that the president’s goal to take military action will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes to approve the use of force.
Other senior administration officials said Obama is merely leaving the door open to that possibility. They say he would prefer that Congress approve a military attack on the Assad regime, in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons, and will wait to see what Congress does before making any final decisions on authorizing military force.
Yet the possibility that Obama would move ahead without the support of Congress is sure to stir confusion among lawmakers, who had – for the most part – applauded his decision to seek their input first, though others claimed he was “abdicating his responsibility” by punting to Congress. It would raise questions about why he decided to seek congressional input at all, after having moved military assets into position immediately, and then waited days and possibly weeks for a debate in Washington.
[A presidential]aide insisted the request for Congress to vote did not supplant the president’s earlier decision to use force in Syria, only delayed its implementation.
“That’s going to happen, anyway,” the source told Fox News, adding that that was why the president, in his Rose Garden remarks, was careful to establish that he believes he has the authority to launch such strikes even without congressional authorization.
Other senior administration officials, outside of the Department of State, would not confirm as much, telling reporters only that the door had been left open for the president to proceed without congressional authorization.
At the least, Obama’s remarks do appear to leave him wiggle room. In the Rose Garden, Obama stressed that he believes he does “have the authority” to carry out an attack without the support of Congress. He said, though, that “the country will be stronger” if Congress weighs in.
A White House statement, following a phone call between Obama and French President Francois Hollande, gave another indication as to the president’s intentions. The statement said the two leaders agree “that the international community must deliver a resolute message to the Assad regime” and that “those who violate this international norm will be held accountable by the world.”