House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn’t believe President Barack Obama needs congressional approval to strike Syria, citing President Bill Clinton’s action in Kosovo, when Congress considered and did not approve action.
“So I don’t think congressional authorization is necessary,” Pelosi said outside the White House Tuesday after she and colleagues met with Obama. “I do think it’s a good thing and I do feel we can achieve it.”
Obama seemed poised to take action but surprised much of the country announcing on Saturday he would seek congressional authorization before striking in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 that killed 1,429 people, 426 of whom were children, according to U.S. intelligence.
Obama met with congressional leaders Tuesday in the White House.
TheBlaze asked Pelosi during a press gaggle after the meeting whether the president can proceed if Congress rejects his plan.
Pelosi said presidents have precedent to act even if Congress considers and doesn’t approve.
“I don’t think Congress will reject, but I do want to remind you I have been reading what some of you have written and saying a president has never gone forward if Congress has not approved when it has taken up the issue,” Pelosi said. “I would remind you in 1999, President Clinton brought us all together over a period of time to talk about going into the Balkans and the vote was 213 to 213, 187 Republicans voted no, 180 Democrats voted yes, about 30 on each side went in a different way than a majority of their party.”
“That was when the planes were really ready to go. He went, and you know what happened there,” Pelosi continued. “So I don’t think congressional authorization is necessary. I do think it’s a good thing and I do feel we can achieve it. I feel pretty confident on the evidence, the intelligence and the national interest that is at stake we have a good conversation to have with our members.”
Obama met with Pelosi, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Eliot Engle (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), House Minority White Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Melendez (D-N.J.).
Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice were also in attendance.
After the meeting, several members of Congress spoke to the press outside the White House.
“That was probably one of the most effective bipartisan meetings that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in Congress. Democrats and Republicans working on an issue that is important not only to America, but to the world,” Rogers told reporters. “The first issue is clear throughout the world, you have the Assad regime using chemical weapons to kill his own people, including 400 children.”
Rogers added that the United States would not be going it alone.
“The United States has resources no other country has, but we can’t be a sheriff for the whole world either. We are now a coalition of countries coming together that understand how serious this issue is,” he said.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who also attended the meeting, said outside the White House it was important that the U.S. respond by also supplying weapons to “vetted” rebels, meaning rebels would not turn on the United States.
“My plea to the president, and to Secretary Hagel and others is that we facilitate a vetted opposition to help to degrade Assad’s capability to use chemical weapons,” Levin said.