Two spokesmen for the Republican speaker of the House sent out messages Thursday suggesting that President Barack Obama isn’t trying hard to win congressional authorization for a military strike in Syria.
Obama’s Organizing for Action grassroots group “is not exactly ‘Flooding the Zone’ on Syria,” said a morning message from Michael Steel, a flack for House Speaker John Boehner.
Steel sent another message out at 2:54 p.m. “Folks – With a big vote on President Obama’s Syria policy looming, Organizing for America doing a protest in Speaker Boehner’s Congressional district tomorrow on… his opposition to ObamaCare.”
The messages were also broadcast by a second Boehner spokesman, Brendan Buck. “OFA on the sidelines,” he said in his 1:55 p.m. message.
Steel’s first email cited a story from Politico, a Virginia-based news site, which noted OFA’s absence from the congressional debate over Obama’s request for authorization.
Obama is expected to win Senate authorization for the strike, but may lose in the House.
A high-profile defeat could seriously cripple his political clout shortly before tough debates this fall on federal spending, funding for Obamacare and a proposed immigration rewrite.
Polls show Obama’s proposed strike is unpopular, especially among Democrats. Many GOP members also oppose the measure, saying that Obama is a poor wartime leader.
Already, more than 100 GOP and Democratic House legislators have announced their opposition to the authorization.
Boehner has said he will hold a vote on the president’s request, but he isn’t imposing any party discipline on fellow GOP members. Instead, he has said the vote will be a “conscience vote.”
The decision not to enforce party discipline suggests that Boehner does not want to split his party over the issue.
The Democrats’ leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, has also decided not to enforce party discipline.
Instead of rallying Obama’s support to lobby legislators to approve the authorization, Obama’s OFA movement is focused on pushing Obama’s domestic priorities.
OFA has been urging Obama’s supporters to promote Obama-backed bills that would increase the flow of immigrants, set new curbs on oil and gas companies, establish additional gun regulations and shield Obamacare from cuts.
The OFA group is also pushing to raise the status of gays, lesbians and people who say they want to change their genetically-determined sex.
“A lot of Americans don’t know that it’s still legal in some states to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. … Here’s the thing: All of us who care about equality can stand up and do something about it,” said a Wednesday email from Jon Carson, the executive director of Organizing for Action.