An aide to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned the White House on Monday that it must consult with congressional leaders before taking any military action in Syria.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a blog post that President Barack Obama was obligated to “consult with Congress on the options he sees as a viable response.”
“This consultation has not yet taken place, but it is an essential part of the process,” Buck wrote, according to The Hill. “And meaningful consultation should happen before any military action is taken.”
Buck also demanded that the president “explain his decision publicly, clearly and resolutely” if he decides to act.
“More than just to Congress, the president has an obligation to the American people to explain the rationale for the course of action he chooses; why it’s critical to our national security; and what the broader strategy is to achieve stability,” Buck wrote.
Pressure has been piling up on the West, particularly on Obama, to respond to the alleged chemical attack in Damascus last week, which rebels said killed more than 1,000 people.
Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" and force a tough U.S. response, but so far has failed to deliver such a response other than deciding to directly arm selected Syrian rebel groups without publicly specifying the extent of the support.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said that chemical weapons had been used against Syrian civilians and warned that President Obama would demand accountability for this "moral obscenity."
"What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality," he said, in a televised statement from the State Department.
"Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," declared Kerry.
Earlier on Monday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told MSNBC that an American “response is imminent” in Syria.
“I talked last evening in the situation room and we’re building support with NATO allies,” Coker said. “Our assets are in place. I don’t think there’s any question in our administration’s mind that chemical warfare has been used.”
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has threatened that any western intervention would end in failure.
“The United States faces failure (if it attacks Syria), just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to our days,” he said.