Boehner: "Frankly, We Ought To Give The President What He's Asking For"


QUESTION: Is this being rushed through too quickly? Do you think there needs to be more debate? Do you think this is something the congress will regret?

SPEAKER BOEHNER: The president on Tuesday while at the White House made this request, the specific request to have the ability to train Syrian rebels. I wanted to make sure that members have ample time to have the conversation about, started today and it will continue and we'll make a decision sometime next week on how we will proceed.

QUESTION: Chairman McKeon just told a group of reporters that the decision has been made for two votes, a vote on the authorization and then a vote on the C.R., is that true?

BOEHNER: That’s not true.

Q: The chairman has it wrong?

BOEHNER: Look me in the eye. There is no decision to be made on how we're going to proceed.

Q: Could you tell us what your preference is? Do you believe it would be best to have a separate vote on the title 10 authorization apart from the C.R. or are you ok embedding title 10 authorization within a much larger legislative piece?

BOEHNER: No decision has been made. While we had a conversation with members today, these are serious discussions. This is a very serious issue and ought to be handled that way. And that's why these conversations are going to continue over the weekend so that -- so that the Congress has ample time to consider the president's decision and act on it.

Q: Mr. Speaker, do you think based on all the information that's been given that the Syrian fighters will be a competent approach? Many Americans are concerned about U.S. arms going to a force we don't know everything about. Do you think they can be effective?

BOEHNER: Based on all the information that I’ve looked at, the free Syrian army has by and large been very well vetted by our intelligence officials. Today they are in a fight against Assad. They’re in a fight against ISIL, and they are in a fight against another al Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria. And they're about to get run over. An F-16 is not a strategy. And air strikes alone will not accomplish what we're trying to accomplish. And the president's made clear that he doesn't want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody's boots has to be on the ground. I believe what the president has asked for, as the commander in chief, has the authority to train these Syrian rebels. Frankly, we ought to give the president what he's asking for.

Q: So if I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds like there will be at a minimum be a vote to give the authority -- narrow authority he's requesting. And the question of whether you go beyond that, the timing and if so the timing of that action.

BOEHNER: That would be correct.

Q: Mr. Speaker [inaudible] with the understanding that maybe you split that into that but at some point you have to decide to move the C.R. one way or another next week to make sure it would get done?

BOEHNER: I would hope so. There’s no reason for it to last that much longer.

Q: Do you think the president is wrong, then, to take U.S. combat troops on the ground in Syria off the table right now?

BOEHNER: Listen, we only have one commander in chief. He laid out his plan. I would never tell the enemy what I was willing to do or unwilling to do. But he is the commander in chief. He made that decision. At this point in time, it's important that we give the president what he's asking for. And we've got to keep our eye on the ball. The issue here is about defeating a terrorist threat that is real and imminent.

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