The White House has made it clear that the Syrian government’s recent use of chemical weapons isn’t going to go unanswered, but they’ve declined to say whether they’ll want authorization from the United Nations or Congress for any eventual action. When White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked today whether the president would wait for a vote from the U.N. Security Council and whether he would request congressional approval, he said that such questions presume a response the president has not yet committed to. At the State Department’s press briefing today, a spokesman also wouldn’t comment on the matter — when asked whether anything in the president’s “range of options” would require U.N. authorization, she responded, “I’m not going to answer that question one way or another before the president’s made a decision.” She declined to say when he may make a decision, though one option is out of the question: boots on the ground in Syria.
Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner released a statement urging Obama to consult his congressional counterparts before intervening in Syria. “This consultation has not taken place,” he said, “but it is an essential part of the process.” While tacitly acknowledging that the president can intervene in Syria without congressional approval, Boehner wanted to make clear that the president has an obligation “to consult with Congress on the options he sees as a viable response”; Carney said today that the White House also considers such discussions to be important.