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

Top Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that it would be "a huge mistake" if President Barack Obama were to go ahead with a military strike against Syria should Congress vote against it. 

"I was of the view that the president has the power, as commander-in-chief, to take very limited military action as the president said he was intending to take," he said. "Now, there are some in the administration that are apparently keeping open the possibility that even if Congress said no to authorization, that the president would still move forward. And that would be a huge mistake."

"So your message to the White House is, if Congress votes no, don't go there," Mitchell said.

"That's right," Van Hollen responded.

"The president has come to the Congress to ask for authority," he added. "I think that's the decisive factor here."

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Tuesday that he wasn't entirely convinced by the case for the use of military force against Syria, saying he needed more information before voting whether to approve intervention.

"I'm not there yet," McCarthy told Bakersfield television station KGET after meeting with members of Congress and administration officials on the subject. "I thought today's meeting was very productive. But I still have some concerns and questions that I need answered."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters following that meeting that he supported President Barack Obama's plan to use limited military strikes in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, calling on his fellow members of Congress to do the same.

"I'm going to support the president's call for action. I believe my colleagues should support this call for action," Boehner said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also announced shortly after the meeting that he would vote in favor of the military force option.

Update: McCarthy spokeswoman Erica Elliott released the following statement to TPM:

"The meeting today at the White House with the President and congressional leaders was both productive and informative. Whip McCarthy is weighing the information and intelligence presented to him by the President and his national security team. The President must continue to make the case for military action to the American people and the Congress. Absent a clear sense of what we must do, and what the mission is, it is difficult to formulate an appropriate and effective resolution authorizing the President to use military force against the Assad regime."

Pope Francis on Tuesday condemned the use of chemical weapons via Twitter, following a series of tweets he posted Monday that seemed to advocate for peace as the U.S. seeks international and congressional support for a military strike against Syria.

Vice President Joe Biden has postponed a scheduled trip Thursday to speak about college affordability at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the White House announced Tuesday. 

The announcement comes as administration officials continue to push for congressional approval for the use of military force against Syria in response to the Assad regime's chemical weapons use. Biden has said there is "no doubt" the Syrian government carried out the attack and "must be held accountable."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday followed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in voicing support for military action in Syria, but cautioned that more information on the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons -- which she referred to as "weapons of mass destruction" -- needs to be made available to the American people.

"It was a very constructive meeting. The president listened to our colleagues. The speaker was very clear," she told reporters after a meeting between members of Congress and administration officials. "But again, I believe that the American people need to hear more about the intelligence that supports this action."

Asked whether she would need to "whip" her colleagues to vote in favor of military action, Pelosi said "it's not a question of whipping, it's a question of discussing."

"I don't think that the congressional authorization is necessary," she added. "I do think it's a good thing."

A senior Syrian official told the Wall Street Journal Monday that the Syrian army and its ally Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group classified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, would hit American warships now stationed in the Mediterranean Sea should the U.S. launch an attack.

"The resistance and the armed forces are now one body," Syrian parliament member Khaled Abboud, a confidant of President Bashar al-Assad, told the Journal in reference to Hezbollah. "In my assessment, Hezbollah will side with Syria in certain operations targeting warships in the Mediterranean."

The Syrian government has ordered civilians to move away from military bases around Damascus and began to move soldiers into vacant apartments in that city, according to the Journal, as members of Congress debate a U.S. response to the Assad regime's chemical weapons use.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that "limited, proportional" military strikes against Syria would degrade President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons capabilities and allow that nation to "free itself" from political conflict.

"The key point I want to emphasize to the American people, the military plan that has been developed by our joint chiefs and that I believe is appropriate is proportional, it is limited, it does not involve boots on the ground," Obama said before a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. "This is not Iraq and this is not Afghanistan."

The president added that those strikes would "fit into a broader strategy" to strengthen the Syrian opposition and bring stability to that nation.

"At the same time, we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition, allow Syria ultimately to free itself from these kinds of terrible civil wars and death on the ground," he said.

Obama also said he was confident that he'll get a congressional vote in favor of military action, which may come as early as next week.

This post has been updated.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said Tuesday that it "would be a recipe for disaster" if Congress were to "micromanage" military action in Syria, but agreed with lawmakers calling for more narrow language in President Barack Obama's authorization request for the use of force. 

"My view of the constitution is, Congress has to be involved in the initiation of military action, but the president's the commander-in-chief and you've got to give the president some latitude in terms of implementing the congressional decision to initiate military action," Kaine said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

Kaine said the president would need "additional authority" before putting boots on the ground, echoing Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who over the weekend said Senate Democratic aides were drafting new language amending the president's resolution to prevent the deployment of American troops in Syria.

"The White House has said there won't be boots on the ground in this operation," Kiane added, "that's probably pretty important to specify in an authorization."

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said Monday that "dozens of countries" will support the United States in carrying out a military strike against Syria.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer which countries would use their own military power to attack Syrian targets, Schultz said she was "not at liberty to say."

"What I can tell you is that there are many nations who have committed to support the United States in our action," she told Blitzer, as quoted by CNN. "In both military and diplomatic and political support, there are dozens of nations who have committed to back us up. That's what I'm at liberty to say."

While French President Francois Hollande has said his country is "ready to punish" Syria over its use of chemical weapons, other nations have not committed to military intervention or are opposed to it. The British parliament rejected military action last week despite strong support for a strike from Prime Minister David Cameron, and Russian President Vladmir Putin, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called the idea that the Assad regime would have used chemical weapons "utter nonsense."

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos gave his first interview to the Washington Post since purchasing the paper for $250 million, saying he'd apply his same philosophy for running Amazon to the newspaper while suggesting he'd take a hands-off approach to running the business.

"We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” Bezos told the Post in an interview published Tuesday. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”

He said his most significant contributions would be his "point of view" and financial support over the long term, allowing the newsroom to find a model that will make the Post profitable.

"If we figure out a new golden era at The Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at The Post,” he said. “I’ll be there with advice from a distance. If we solve that problem, I won’t deserve credit for it."