Will Obama seek approval for Iraq strike?

 

Despite Capitol Hill calls for a vote, the White House refused to say Wednesday whether President Obama would seek congressional approval before any potential military strike in Iraq.

"I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals about decisions the president may or not make," press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

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A military strike against the Sunni insurgents who have seized much of Iraq's north and west would appear permissible under a 2002 resolution authorizing the use of military force within the country. But the administration has previously called for that resolution's repeal, and Carney reiterated that desire on Wednesday.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have said that regardless of the existing resolution, Obama needs to get congressional approval before any airstrike.

“I certainly believe that the president always has to get congressional approval,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “If there’s an emergency, you may need to come back and get a congressional ratification. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) concurred, calling the existing legislation "functionally obsolete."

And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) any airstrikes should get fresh authorization.

“A new war has started, and if people want to go be involved in a new war, the job of Congress is to vote on it,” he said. “I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later.”

Carney, in his final press conference, said the White House was "consulting" with Congress, pointing to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with Obama and top congressional leaders.

The outgoing White House spokesman also said that he saw a distinction between a potential action in Iraq and the president's proposed strikes against Syria last year. Then, Obama said the nation would be "stronger" if Congress authorized the military strikes.

"The sovereign government of Iraq has requested assistance ... it certainly is a distinction and difference worth noting," Carney said.

Carney sidestepped questions on why the Iraqi request would affect the president's obligation to obtain congressional authorization.