The speaker said surveys showing American hesitancy to intervene in Syria are “understandable,” and underscore “the need for the president to fully explain what is at stake and outline why he believes action is necessary.”
“If U.S. action is imminent, it is our hope that the president doesn’t forget his obligations – to Congress, but, also, to speak directly to the American people,” Boehner said.
That message wasn’t just coming from Republicans.
“I think the president will need to go before the American people and explain exactly what actually we’re taking in concert with others and why,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“Certainly I think whatever we do will be with our allies, NATO, and others. I think there has to be a coalition. We cannot go through the United Nations because the Russians veto everything and block everything. So I think that there have been consultations over the past several days, and I think that that there’s been a decision and I think we’ll hear about it soon,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“There are many difficult decisions, all bad choices in Syria,” Engel added. “As I’ve said before, the worst bad of all the choices is for us to do nothing.”
Russia is under the impression that the action will be coming soon, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a hastily called press conference today.
“Western leaders are making statements that indicate that they won’t wait for the results of this commission, they have already decided everything,” Lavrov said in reference to UN investigations of the attack. “It’s a very dangerous slippery slope that our Western partners have gone on before. I hope common sense prevails.”
Lavrov accused the West of “repeating the Iraqi and Libyan scenario.”
“Official Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the ‘red line’ has been crossed,” he said. “Now, we are hearing calls for a military campaign against Bashar Assad.”
Russia is an ally of the Assad regime and its top arms supplier. Opposition sources indicated to PJ Media tonight that the delivery system used to send the chemical weapons into the Damascus suburb might have been Iranian.
The Pentagon has taken heat from Congress for continuing its relationship with Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport in a contract worth more than half a billion dollars to supply the Afghan National Security Forces with Mi-17 helicopters.
Assad gave an exclusive interview to Russian newspaper Izvestia in which he denied launching the chemical weapons strike and said he expected his friends at the Kremlin to have his back.
“Certainly, we expect Russia to block any interpretation that aims to serve American and western policies,” he said. “…I have a strong relationship with President Putin, which spans back many years even before the crisis.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said this morning that he hopes the administration comes to Congress — which is out on recess until Sept. 9 — “at some point” for authorization of action against Syria.
“But I think you’re gonna see a surgical, proportional strike against the Assad regime for what they have done. And I support that,” said Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Hopefully as soon as we get back, Congress will take up an authorization for this. It’s the right thing to do. That’s what the American people expect their elected officials to be involved in.”
In the meantime, Corker added, “I think the Assad regime would be totally idiotic to take any additional steps in the short term relative to additional chemical warfare.”