With Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea ready to strike, Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this afternoon to announce he has decided the United States should take military action.
But he says he will seek congressional authorization for the use of force. He says congressional leadership plans to hold a debate and a vote as soon as Congress comes back in September. Lawmakers are scheduled to return to session on Sept. 9.
Obama says he has the authority to act on his own, but believes it is important for the country to have a debate. The administration officials described a president overriding all his top national security advisers, who believed Obama had the authority to act on his own.
But these officials say the president spent much of the week wrestling with Congress' role in authorizing force and made the decision Friday night after a lengthy discussion with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough.
The administration officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama's decision-making by name.
At the same time, Obama challenged lawmakers to consider what message the U.S. will send to a dictator if he is allowed to kill hundreds of children with chemical weapons without suffering any retaliation. Military action would be in response to a 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 were killed in that attack last week.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the president's role as commander in chief is strengthened when he has the support of lawmakers. Lawmakers had widely called for Obama to include Congress in the decision under the War Powers Act.
10/11 sought out responses from Nebraska leaders. Below are their responses to the situation.
Senator Deb Fischer's Office
She believes the president's decision to wait for congressional authorization is appropriate. She maintains that any use of military force must fit into a broader, coherent foreign policy strategy with a clear purpose and well defined goals.
Senator Mike Johanns
"I expect the Administration and Congress to work together as this situation continues to develop and the President must fully explain his actions to the American people."
Congressman Lee Terry
"I want to hear president Obama say he will call Congress back for vote before any military action vs Syria. Stand ready to debate and vote on military action even before sept 9 or 10. Will need more evidence of threat to U.S. Security. 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."
Congressman Adrian Smith's Office
Congressman Smith is very concerned about the ongoing conflict in Syria and believes the use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of international law. This is a challenging situation and the Congressman appreciates the President's decision to seek congressional approval for the use of force.