Senior administration officials say President Obama had planned to take military action against Syria without congressional authorization, but told aides Friday night that he had changed his mind. The president announced Saturday that he wanted to launch a military strike, but would first seek lawmakers' approval.
Military action would be in response to the chemical weapons attack the U.S. says Syrian President Bashar Assad's government carried out against civilians. The U.S. says more than 1,400 Syrians, including children, were killed in the attack last week.
Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry issued the following statement after hearing President Obama’s decision:
“I’m pleased that President Obama has decided to seek Congressional approval before the use of military force in Syria. I look forward to a debate worthy of the American people. I want to be clear that the use of chemical weapons is wrong, but I believe the use of military force should only be used when the security of our country or that of our allies face a clear and present danger. In the case of Syria, I’m reluctant to involve the U.S. military in the civil war in Syria because we don’t have friends on either side of this conflict. I look forward to reviewing the evidence of the threat to U.S. security.”
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin issued this statement on Sunday:
“I have just attended a classified congressional briefing on Syria that quite frankly raised more questions than it answered. I found the evidence presented by administration officials to be circumstantial. The atrocious use of chemical weapons against civilians is an affront to human values and a violation of international law. It should be condemned by the international community as a whole. The coming debate in Congress will hopefully shine the light on outstanding questions as will the results of the U.N. inspection team. We must wait for these results before any action is taken. What I hear from Iowans is that the Middle East has a complex history and the conflicts there will not be solved by U.S. military action alone. We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.”
The president said congressional leadership plans to hold a debate and a vote as soon as Congress comes back in September. Mr. Obama said though he has the authority to act on his own, he believes it is important for the country to have a debate.