President Obama surprised his supporters and critics alike on Saturday when he called for congressional authorization of military action again Syria.
"All of us should be accountable as we move forward," Obama said, "and that can only be accomplished with a vote."
He said all four leaders of Congress had agreed to hold a debate and a vote on the question as soon as the senators and representatives return from their summer recess. The president said his administration would give every member all the information he or she needs to make the decision.
Obama made clear that he thinks he already has the authority to take action against Syria, even without the approval of Congress. But he noted that members of Congress had been asserting a right to be heard on the question.
"I absolutely agree," Obama said.
We get several different perspectives on the president's decision to seek congressional approval.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S CALL FOR A VOTE ON SYRIA:
• "The country will be stronger if we take this course"
President Seeks to Rally Support for Syria Strike
But Syria's government on Sunday defiantly mocked Mr. Obama's decision to turn to Congress, saying it was a sign of weakness. A state-run newspaper, Al Thawra, called the action "the start of the historic American retreat" and said Mr. Obama had put off an attack because of a "sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies." (New York Times)
History Aside, Obama Bets on Congress
Mr. Obama has at least one legislative advantage in the Syria debate: Congressional leaders, including the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, have already pledged to schedule an up-or-down vote in both chambers. That is more than the president often gets in the House, where Mr. Boehner frequently blocks a floor vote on the president's agenda. ... Obama is not a president with a keen sense of how to easily move his ideas through a reluctant Congress. With the Syria vote, he must find a way to ensure victory without setting a precedent that requires him — and future presidents — to do the same before every strike. (New York Times)
• Obama Says He Doesn't Need Congress' Permission to Strike Syria, So Why is He Asking for It?
So why is Obama asking for authority he already believes he has? It's hardly a decision without downsides. ... But by asking permission, Obama is throwing a bone to a constitutional camp he once championed but with whom he has since fallen far out of favor. And — whether he intended to or not — the president just extracted himself from a politically perilous position and pushed his political adverseries into a no-win situation. (National Journal)
• Obama's call for Congress vote on Syria puts GOP's 2016 presidential hopefuls to the test
Obama's stuttering week, in which he surprised his own advisers and the rest of the world by putting seemingly imminent military action on hold and calling for congressional approval, has focused renewed attention on his leadership -- which is why he has so much to lose if he is rebuffed. (Dan Balz, in the Washington Post)