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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) rejected a request to meet with Russian lawmakers to discuss the situation in Syria, CNN reported Wednesday.

"The Speaker has declined the Russian embassy's request that he meet with a delegation," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told CNN.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported sending a delegation of lawmakers to lobby Congress to take a more balanced position on the issue. A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington told CNN that diplomats sent a formal request to congressional leaders, but did not say which lawmakers would travel with the delegation or when and where the meeting would take place. It's unclear if any members of Congress have agreed to the meeting.

Boehner announced Tuesday that he would back President Barack Obama's plan to use limited military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Liberal advocacy group MoveOn announced Wednesday that 73 percent of its members voted they were opposed to military intervention in Syria.

The group said in an email to supporters that following its members' vote it would launch a "major effort" calling on lawmakers to vote against a proposed resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria. 

"We have seen the rushed march to war before. We cannot allow it again," MoveOn's executive director of civic action, Anna Galland, wrote in the email. "Congress, and the nation, should not be forced into a binary debate over strikes or nothing. In response to the tragic reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, the US needs to lead in the way in engaging with the international community, while rigorously exploring alternatives to military action, including negotiations, economic sanctions, diplomacy, and promotion of humanitarian aid."

Boston Mayor Tom Menino apologized Wednesday for a "poor choice of words" when he said in an interview that were he the mayor of Detroit, he'd "blow up" the city and "start all over."

Menino made the comments in a recent New York Times magazine interview. Asked where he would relocate if he could live in any other U.S. city than Boston, Menino answered Detroit.

"I’d blow up the place and start all over," Menino told the magazine. "No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there’s something wrong with the system. Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that’s the problem — leadership."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing did not take kindly to the remark, calling Menino's comment insensitive in light of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“It is extremely regrettable that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino used such an unfortunate choice of words to describe what he would do if he came to Detroit," Bing said Tuesday in a statement, as quoted by Detroit's WWJ. "I would think the mayor of a city that recently experienced a deadly bombing attack would be more sensitive and not use the phrase ‘blow up.'"

Menino told Boston radio station WBZ Wednesday that he stood by the comment about Detroit's police response time but admitted he "made a mistake" and used a "poor choice of words."

Republican Reps. Mike Pompeo (KS) and Tom Cotton (AR) urged the GOP to back President Barack Obama's plan to use military force in Syria in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Washington Post.

"We understand why many of our GOP colleagues are undecided about a use-of-force resolution," the senators wrote. "Indeed, we have reservations about the president’s implied course of military action. Yet Congress has its own constitutional duty to defend U.S. interests, and those interests shouldn’t be neglected simply because we have doubts about Obama."

Pompeo and Cotton outlined a number of U.S. national security interests they said were undermined by the Syrian conflict, and assured their fellow Republican lawmakers they can vote to authorize the use of force in Syria without sacrificing the "duty" to critique how Obama wields that force.

"After all, we have one commander in chief at a time, and the United States is weakened if our presidency is weakened," they wrote. "No matter the president’s party or his past failures, all Americans should want, and help, him to succeed when it comes to our national security."

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he doesn't believe he was required to consult Congress for authorization to use military force against Syria.

"As commander-in-chief, I always preserve the right and the responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security," he said in a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. "I do not believe that I was required to take this to Congress. But I did not take this to Congress just because it's an empty exercise. I think it's important to have Congress' support on it."

The president added he believes the country understands authorizing even limited military action is a "sober decision" and that Congress will approve a resolution.

"I think America also recognizes that if the international community fails to maintain certain norms, standards, laws, governing how countries interact and how people are treated, that over time this world becomes less safe," he said. "It becomes more dangerous not only for those people who are subjected to these horrible crimes, but to all of humanity."

 

     

The House Foreign Affairs committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday at noon ET to discuss the Obama administration's response to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey are expected to testify before the committee.

Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts Republican who lost the 2010 governor's race to incumbent Deval Patrick (D), plans to announce Wednesday that he will be making a second gubernatorial run.

Top Massachusetts Republican leaders briefed on Baker's decision told the Boston Globe the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care plans to release a video at 10 a.m. ET launching his campaign and then speak to reporters on Thursday.

Baker emerges as the Republican Party's only well-known candidate within the state after former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced last month he would not seek the governor's office.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday that the Senate's drafted resolution for the authorization for use of military force "hits the sweet spot" between preventing boots on the ground in Syria and allowing President Barack Obama to send an unequivocal message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"It has the input of both sides of the aisle. It tries to capture the views reflective of members of the Senate," Menendez said of the resolution, which he drafted along with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It's tailored, narrow in scope and breadth and assures no American troops are on the ground. And it has a time limit, at the same time giving the president the wherewithal to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons and send a message."

"It hits the sweet spot," he added.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice told NBC News on Tuesday that the Obama administration has "no expectation of losing the vote in Congress" to authorize limited military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said she's "quite confident" Congress will approve the president's plan, citing the endorsements of bipartisan "key leaders." House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) all voiced their support for military action in Syria following a meeting between members of Congress and administration officials Tuesday.

"We think that the Congress of the United States and the American people understand that we have compelling national interests at stake here," Rice told "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.

Rice added that failure to take action against Syria would give a "green light" to countries like Iran and North Korea that "have the ambition to acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them with abandon."

"We cannot let that happen," she said.

Watch the interview below, courtesy of NBC News: 

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