“There’s no whip list since this is a conscience vote, and the speaker is acting accordingly,” says an aide familiar with Boehner’s strategy. “He’s going to come back this week and spend a lot of time listening to his members.”
But Boehner’s reluctance to say much publicly doesn’t mean he’s absent from the discussion. His first vote in Congress, after being elected in 1990, was to authorize the Gulf War, and he has long been a hawk. Sources close to him say he’ll try to bolster GOP support without strong-arming anyone. Case in point: His staff is advising White House chief of staff Denis McDonough about what the president needs to say on Tuesday to win Republican votes.
On the advising front, Boehner, Cantor, and many other Republicans have told the president that he needs to make a better case for war if he wants the House to authorize the use of force in Syria. That’s what I was getting at.