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But several Republican aides said that with Libya, Obama’s efforts may be too little, too late. GOP aides pointed out that the administration’s decision to hold Wednesday’s briefing came at the behest of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and was not an idea that originated in the White House.
One GOP aide said the outreach hasn’t done anything to resolve the problem.
“The Congress — and the American people — still have serious and substantive concerns,” the aide said.
A Democratic leadership aide had a more tempered response to the administration’s handling of the Libya situation.
“While efforts are made by White House to ensure that information is flowing to Congress and that Members are consulted, fast-moving events in Libya require that lines of communications remain constantly open,” the aide said.
For its part, the White House maintains that Obama and other top officials have been in regular contact with Hill leaders all along. During a press briefing last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney listed off more than a dozen committee hearings and closed meetings on Libya that have taken place over the past month, citing dates and names of administration officials who met with lawmakers. He noted that Obama met with Hill leaders to discuss a “limited and discreet mission” in Libya just before the U.S. military became involved.
“Questions outlined by Members of Congress have by and large been answered,” Carney said. Obama has been engaged with Capitol Hill “in a very substantial way. And we will continue to do that.”
The White House spokesman dismissed the idea that Obama’s Friday call to Hill leaders was in response to their criticisms about Congress being ignored as the U.S. proceeds with military action in Libya.
Friday’s call was just another in “a series of consultations” that Obama and administration officials have had with lawmakers, Carney said. “It’s a part of the process.”