Libya proof-of-consultation tour continues

BAI - Libya map with target and fighter planes
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When White House press secretary Jay Carney came to the briefing room Thursday and read a long list of White House "consultations" with Congress on Libya, he left little doubt that Republican claims that the President had failed to consult with them had hit a nerve.

The proof-of-consultation tour continued today with a Presidential briefing for 21 Democrats and Republicans from both Houses. Some were present in the Situation Room, but with Congress in recess this week, others called in from locations around the country -- and around the globe.

The White House says the President and his national security team gave an update on "accomplishments to date" including efforts toward transitioning to NATO control. The President then "answered multiple questions from the members of Congress."

Soon after the hour-long briefing concluded the "read-outs" started rolling in. Not surprisingly, Democrats, including Senator Carl Levin of the Armed Services Committee, were singing from the White House hymnal:

"He clearly answered the questions about the mission and planned schedule for the handoff of the principal responsibility for population protection to NATO and Arab countries."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pushed back against Republicans on the "failure to consult" controversy:

"Members of Congress will receive a classified briefing from the Administration on these transition plans and our future role when Congress reconvenes next week."

But it was, perhaps, a bit surprising that Republican responses weren't stronger. Senator John McCain, who's been a tough critic on Libya, politely prodded the President to take a tougher stance:

"Senator McCain supports the decision to intervene militarily in Libya, but he remains concerned that our actions at present may not be sufficient to avoid a stalemate and accomplish the US objective of forcing Qaddafi to leave power."

And while Speaker John Boehner sent a highly critical letter to the President earlier this week - in which he accused the President of going to war without a clearly defined mission - today he issued a "lite" version of that letter:

"The Speaker appreciated the update today, but still believes much more needs to be done by the administration to provide clarity, particularly to the American people, on the military objective in Libya, America's role, and how it is consistent with U.S. policy goals."

Could Republicans be giving new consideration to the old adage that politics stops at the water's edge?

Don't bet on it. They're more likely holding their fire - until after the President gives his national address on Libya on Monday night.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.