Catherine Thompson

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

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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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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.