Members of Congress, though widely supportive of military action, are split so far on whether the White House must ask for authorization before ramping up any campaign in the Middle East or in the event the existing bombing against targets in Iraq goes on for a long time.
Leaders have been less vocal. Asked earlier in the day whether he believes Obama should ask for Congress's permission, House Speaker John Boehner hedged, saying that he has to hear from the administration exactly what their plan is first.
Boehner, who is suing the president over alleged executive overreach elsewhere, has not explicitly called for congressional authorization and, according to a lengthy readout from his office, did not ask Obama to seek approval from Capitol Hill at Tuesday's meeting. But Boehner stopped short of lending support for a full-scale military invasion, which Obama already has said he will avoid, saying instead he would support training and special forces.
"The Speaker stated he would support the President if he chose to deploy the military to help train and play an advisory role for the Iraqi Security Forces and assist with lethal targeting of ISIL leadership," according to a Boehner aide.
Republican leaders aren't all following the same playbook. Unlike Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign, said earlier in the day that he believes Obama should seek authorization for any military action he decides to take, and he noted there would be widespread support in Congress.
"The president should be seeking congressional approval, period, for whatever he decides to do, because that's the way you hear from those of us who represent the rest of the country," he told reporters.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, agrees with Obama that he does not need congressional approval, according to her spokesman Drew Hammill. But Pelosi noted in an interview before heading to the White House that the dynamic has changed from last year, when Congress dealt Obama a blow by denying him authorization to strike Syria.
"There was absolutely zero appetite in the public, I would say, a year ago for the initiation of hostilities," Pelosi said. "In the public there's a different attitude," which will be reflected in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not said publicly whether he would demand that Obama ask for military authorization.
Some committee chairmen and rank-and-file members, however, have been vociferously calling on the administration to clear military action at the Capitol. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and ranking member Eliot Engel have noted that they want to weigh in legislatively on any protracted military campaign, and have invited Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on the subject next week.