Both House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that they would support
President Barack Obama’s plan for limited military action in Syria, with Boehner saying that it’s “something the country needs to do.”
“I’m going to support the president’s call for action, and I believe my colleagues should,” Boehner said.
Both addressed reporters after a meeting Tuesday morning between Obama and Congressional leaders on Syria. And House Minority Leader Eric Cantor quickly issued a statement of support after the meeting.
The support of both Boehner and Cantor is significant for passage in a couple of ways. They rarely get out publicly ahead of his Republican conference, so it suggests that they feel strongly about the issue.
And it signals that Boehner and Cantor will be a crucial, active voices in getting other House Republicans to support the authorization of military force. This is important in the House, where passage faces a much more uncertain path than in the Senate. A Boehner spokesman, however, said that the Speaker would leave it to Obama to “whip” votes.
Before the meeting, Obama said that there should be a “prompt” vote in both chambers of Congress early next week.
Boehner said that only the U.S. has the “capability and the capacity” to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people on Aug. 21.
“The use of these weapons has to be responded to,” Boehner said.
Pelosi echoed Boehner’s support, saying that she associates herself with Boehner’s remarks. Her support will also be important in potentially swaying Democrats not normally supportive of military action.
“President Obama did not draw the red line. Humanity drew it,” Pelosi said.
In his statement, Cantor suggested that a failure to respond to Assad’s use of chemical weapons could have broader implications for U.S. interests throughout the region.
“It is not just an abstract theory that the Syrian conflict threatens the stability of key American partners in the region. It is a reality,” Cantor said.
“Beyond the obvious regional interests, a failure to adequately respond to the use of chemical weapons and compel the end of this conflict on terms beneficial to America and our partners only increases the likelihood of future WMD use by the regime, transfer to Hizballah, or acquisition by al-Qaeda. No one wants to be asking why we failed to act if the next time Sarin is used it is in the Paris or New York subway.”
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