President Barack Obama pushed back on the idea that his credibility is on the line if Congress fails to authorize strikes against Syria — saying they own the “red line” he set a year ago.
“First of all, I didn’t set a red line,” Obama said. “The world set a red line,” he said, noting the treaty against the use of chemical weapons.
“Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation titled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for,” he said.
Obama said that when he used the “red line” term a year ago, “that wasn’t something I just kind of made up. I didn’t pluck it out of thin air.”
Obama said that his credibility wasn’t on the line — Congress’, America’s and the international community’s credibility was.
He declined, meanwhile to answer definitively whether he would strike Syria even without Congress but said that his decision to go to Congress was not “symbolic.”
He said it was important to “get out of the habit” of having the president stretch his authority to take action on his own, while Congress snipes from the sidelines and is not fully invested.
Obama also took aim at people who do not support the military action, saying that diplomacy had failed.
“I do have to ask people, well, if in fact you are outraged by the slaughter of innocent people, what are you doing about it?” he said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.