President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he has decided to strike the Syrian military in retaliation for its nerve gas attack on civilians — but that he’ll wait for Congressional authorization before launching an attack.
“I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage,” he said. “Today, I’m asking Congress to send a message to the rest of the world that we are ready to move together.”
“I have the authority to carry out this military action…. [and] I know the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be more effective” if it is approved by Congress, he said in a short statement delivered in the White House’s Rose Garden.
Obama said congressional leaders have agreed to hold a debate after Congress returns from its August recess on September 9.
Obama’s request for congressional approval is unexpected, partly because he has implemented numerous actions in the last few years in the face of congressional opposition. These actions include a partial amnesty for younger illegal immigrants and partial enforcement of drug laws.
However, congressional approval is important for Obama because he’s facing opposition from the progressive left to any use of force — opposition that could damage Democratic turnout the 2014 mid-term election.
Obama indirectly acknowledged the opposition from his fellow progressives, saying that the nation is opposed to military campaigns, and that he wants to end “a time of war that I was elected, in part, to end.”