President Barack Obama’s statement on Syria Saturday afternoon confirmed his resolve to act with military force to chemical weapons use he is confident the Syrian regime perpetrated.
He said he is comfortable going ahead without United Nations Security Council approval, as the U.N. has delayed in holding Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable.
He said he spoke with all four congressional leaders and they will hold a debate and vote when Congress returns to session on September 9. Obama said House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are all in agreement with him.
“We would not put boots on the ground,” he said, and the engagement would be “limited in duration and scope.”
“What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight with no consequence?” the president asked.
Obama urged Congress to support his action plan in Syria. A reporter asked the president as he left the podium whether a vote in Congress against military intervention would stop him from moving ahead. The question remains.
Boehner, Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) issued a joint statement on Saturday, tweeted by news source @Circa: “Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress. We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised.
“In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”
The last time Congress formally declared war was in 1941 when the United States entered WWII, notes an AFP report. American presidents since that time have initiated military strikes without Congressional approval, invoking their authority as commanders-in-chief.