By Justin Sink - 06/12/14 03:07 PM EDT
The White House dodged questions Thursday on whether President Obama would seek congressional approval to launch airstrikes against Iraq in response to a surge of sectarian violence.
"We would have to get back to you on how that would proceed if that decision were made," press secretary Jay Carney said.
"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this action without specific congressional authorization, our country will be stronger if we take this course," Obama said at the time. "We should have this debate because the issues are too big for business as usual."
But after Obama said Thursday that he was considering air strikes against an al Qaeda-affiliated group that has captured government and military compounds in Iraq's north, the White House sidestepped questions about whether the president would again consult with Congress.
Carney said there were "obviously legal authorities that exist regarding the use of military force in conflicts" but did not specify whether Obama thought he needed to consult with Congress.
Obama would seem to have the legal authority to launch a military strike in Iraq because the original use of force authorization that enabled the Iraq War remains in effect — but the administration has previously said they would support the repeal of that legislation. Late last month, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a bill that would repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq.
The White House would likely be wary of taking their case to Capitol Hill after the Syria proposal met strong resistance among lawmakers. The president's proposal appeared doomed to fail before Russia brokered a last-minute peace deal under which the Syrian government offered to turn over its chemical weapons cache.
The president's approval ratings fell to their lowest point in more than a year following the height of Syria crisis.