the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Readout of Briefing for Congressional Leaders on the Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Following on the President’s calls with House and Senate leaders over the last day, and building on extensive Cabinet Member outreach to Congress over the past week, this evening Senior Administration Officials held an unclassified phone call with congressional leaders and the Chairs and Ranking Members of national security committees to brief them on the Administration’s thinking and seek their input on the U.S. response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons near Damascus on August 21.  The views of Congress are important to the President’s decision-making process, and we will continue to engage with Members as the President reaches a decision on the appropriate U.S. response to the Syrian government’s violation of international norms against the use of chemical weapons.  Senior Administration Officials participating in tonight’s call included National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld. The call lasted 90 minutes and 15 Members asked questions of the assembled Administration Officials.  

Members of Congress participating in the briefing included:

  • Speaker John Boehner, R-OH
  • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA
  • Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Senator John Cornyn, R-TX, Republican Whip
  • Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA, Majority Leader
  • Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, Majority Whip
  • Representative Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Democratic Whip
  • Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, Democratic Conference Committee Vice Chair
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, Chair, Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Carl Levin, D-MI, Chairman, Armed Services Committee
  • Senator Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Chair, Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Senator James Inhofe, R-OK, Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee
  • Senator Bob Corker, R-TN, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee
  • Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Ranking Member, Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Representative Bill Young, R-FL, Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Representative Ed Royce, R-CA, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Representative Mike Rogers, R-MI, Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Representative Nita Lowey, D-NY, Ranking Member Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Representative Buck McKeon, R-CA, Chairman, Armed Services Committee
  • Representative Eliot Engel, D-NY, Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, D-MD, Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Representative Kay Granger, R-TX, Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs