Minn. lawmakers react to President's decision on Syria

3:56 PM, Aug 31, 2013   |    comments
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Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - President Barack Obama had planned to take military action against Syria without congressional authorization, but told aides Friday night that he had changed his mind.

Obama announced Saturday that he wanted to launch a military strike, but would first seek lawmakers' approval.

The officials describe a president overriding all his top national security advisers, who believe consulting with Congress was sufficient.

The officials say Obama spent the week wrestling with Congress' role and made the decision Friday after a lengthy discussion with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, a Stillwater native.

They say Obama decided seeking approval would make the U.S. stronger even though he still believes he has the authority to act alone.

The administration officials requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss Obama's decision-making by name.

KARE 11 reached out to Minnesota politicians about their stance on the issue.

"There are no good options on Syria, but as I've said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that," Sen. Al Franken, Democrat, said in a statement. "Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can't be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a fellow Democrat, said "The President is right to consult with Congress and obtain approval before taking military action in Syria. The decision to allow Congress to debate will give us the ability to carefully consider the evidence and consult with military officials before making a decision. I continue to strongly believe that we should not have American troops on the ground in Syria. I also urge the President to continue to work with our international allies."

Congressional representatives from the state also reacted to the President's remarks.

"The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime must be considered a crime against humanity," said Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum. "President Assad and his generals need to be brought to justice for this atrocity -- preferably by the International Criminal Court."

"I'm pleased the President is seeking Congressional authorization and debate before taking military action in Syria. I stand ready to begin that debate immediately if necessary," said Democrat Rep. Tim Walz.

Republican Michele Bachmann said that the President "made the correct constitutional decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of military force."

"I am adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East and plan to vote against military intervention in Syria," Bachmann said in a statement. "We have bad actors and bad options on both sides in Syria, with many of the rebels working with al Qaeda-affiliated groups."

While Bachmann agreed with the President's decision, she was also quick to point the finger of blame at President Obama as well.

"The fruit of President Obama's failed foreign policy has contributed to the chaos and instability in Libya and Egypt, all the while distracting from the essential threat in the Middle East: the specter of a nuclear Iran ... President Obama has not demonstrated a vital American national security interest in the conflict in Syria or a clear strategy outlining what the use of force would accomplish. The American people do not support a military intervention and I cannot vote for one," Bachmann concluded in a statement.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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