Earlier today President Obama refused to rule out the possibility of authorizing military action in Syria even without Congressional authorization. Instead he told reporters at a press conference in St. Petersburg that "I think it would be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate because, right now, I'm working to get as much support as possible out of Congress." Subsequent the press conference, Tony Blinken, a top White House aid told National Public Radio the President does not intend to authorize US military force in Syria without Congressional backing, contending "The president of course has the authority to act, but it's neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him."
Despite reassurance from Blinken, there is still reason to believe the president may unilaterally act without Congressional approval. However, recent polls suggest this would be a mistake. A recent NBC/WSJ poll found 79 percent of Americans agreed the president must receive Congressional approval before authorizing airstrikes against Syria. Only 16 percent thought Obama does not need Congressional approval to intervene.
An Economist/YouGov poll dug deeper finding that 41 percent believe the “President must always get Congressional approval prior to the use of force.” At the same time, a similar share (38 percent) tolerate greater subjective power to the president agreeing that the “President should get Congressional approval when possible, but should not be required to get approval in emergencies.” The issue with Syria is that only 21 percent of the public views the Syrian civil war as an immediate threat to US national security. Polls already consistently find broad opposition to military intervention in Syria. Without Congressional approval of airstrikes, President Obama risks further alienating the American public.