By Justin Sink - 03/20/13 08:47 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that President Obama should consult Congress before launching military action against Syria, amid reports Damascus has used chemical weapons.
"I do think that the threat that Syria used chemical weapons is a serious one,” said Boehner in an interview with CNN. “I would hope that as the president is making his decision with what our reaction will be, that he will, in fact, consult with the bipartisan leaders in the Congress, something that didn't happen before our involvement with Libya.
"This is an important part of the process and I would hope that he would reach out to the Congress so that we could be part of that process," he added.
Obama would not spell out what actions the U.S. would take, but warned that, if true, the use of chemical agents would be a “game changer.”
"When you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation and mass casualties, and you let that genie out of the bottle, then you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we‘re already seeing in Syria,” Obama said. “And the international community has to act on that information.”
The government of President Bashar Assad and opposition forces have blamed each other for the reported attack on Tuesday, which left 25 dead.
Russian and Israeli officials have said they believe chemical weapons were definitively used in the attack.
Boehner said Wednesday he has not conveyed directly to the White House his desire to be consulted ahead of a military action.
"But I'm sure they're well aware, after the storm that erupted over Libya," Boehner said.
In 2011, Obama authorized U.S. participation in the NATO air campaign against then Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, without first seeking congressional approval. The president said he intervened to prevent the slaughter of civilians, but lawmakers said that he should have consulted with Congress first.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said at the time that "the undeniable conclusion is that the president is breaking the law by continuing the unilateral offensive war against Libya."
The House eventually rejected legislation that would have put limits on the funding of some military operations in Libya, and restricted the role of U.S. forces.