House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Congress should give Obama the authority he sought "as soon as possible."
Asked whether it should be attached to the spending bill, she said: "Well, we want it to be on whatever engine is leaving the station, and that's one that is leaving the station. That's for sure a must-pass bill in a time-certain period of time. And I would hope that it would be on there."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said a similar request faced opposition in the past because members felt the mission was not clear, but he is waiting to hear from the administration before deciding whether to support this request.
"It's a big issue, it's critically important. A lot of members have a lot of strong feelings about it," said one GOP aide. "It's sort of an issue that's too big for a CR. It rises above the traditional constraints of a continuing resolution."
Another top Republican aide said "this isn't a new request, and it has thus far faced bipartisan opposition."
But the politics are difficult to ignore. Republicans are wary of seeming unsupportive of a president in the run-up to a military campaign heavily supported by the American public. As one Armed Services Committee Republican noted, the GOP heavily criticized Democrats for pushing back against President George W. Bush during his campaign in Iraq, so they cannot be perceived as doing the same to Obama.
Still, the concerns are bipartisan. One Democratic aide noted there are many questions about the administration's ability to arm Syrian moderates while keeping weapons and equipment out of the hands of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, against whom Obama asked Congress to authorize military strikes last year.
There is also the matter of procedural hurdles. The continuing resolution is already written, and would have to be rewritten to include the military authorization. A House Rules Committee hearing that had been scheduled for 2 p.m. has been postponed as lawmakers sort through the Syria issue.
Either way, members are pushing back against the idea of adding an authorizing measure to a spending bill. Proponents of the military measure, however, are also pushing back, noting that the CR already includes at least two major authorizations: the Export Import Bank and an Internet tax measure.
House Republicans will hold a special conference meeting Thursday morning to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, and any requests included in the president's speech on the situation scheduled for Wednesday night.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already expressed support for granting the administration's request. And Senate Democrats could choose to move separate legislation on the subject if the House does not attach it to the CR they send across the Capitol.