Most Kentucky federal lawmakers are praising President Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization before taking military action against Syria, which the administration says has used chemical weapons against civilians and rebel forces.
Obama says the administration has intelligence that the Syrian regime claimed the lives of 1,429 people with chemical attacks, and that a limited and tailored air strike is necessary.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Obama said he reached out to leaders in Congress including Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who had requested a conference call with the White House to brief senators on Saturday.
From McConnell’s office:
“Today the President advised me that he will seek an authorization for the use of force from the Congress prior to initiating any combat operations against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. The President’s role as commander-in-chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress.”
Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who is often a supporter of the president’s agenda, urged the Obama administration to outline its case for bombing Syria, and advised they seek approval from lawmakers.
A Yarmuth spokesman says the congressman will return to Washington on Sunday for a confidential briefing with the president’s national security team.
Immediate reactions to the president’s remarks have been mixed with some praising Obama for making a compelling moral and national security argument.
“I meant what I said: that the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said. “We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on an incredible scale.”
Others have argued Obama is ceding a power held by his predecessors for decades, and raise the prospect of Congress voting against the president’s request for military action similar how British Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal on Syria was reject by Parliament earlier this week.
The announcement by Obama is being made in the shadow of the U.S. war in Iraq a decade earlier with a notably “war weary” American public. A recent poll showed 80 percent of Americans want congressional approval regarding Syria, and many are against intervention.
Obama said he is not contemplating putting U.S. troops in Syria, however.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been a chief skeptic of military action, but he too credited the president for reaching out to Congress.
“I am encouraged President Obama now says he will fulfill his constitutional obligation to seek authorization for any potential military action in Syria,” Paul said in a statement. “This is the most important decision any President or any Senator must make, and it deserves vigorous debate.”
But Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky., has vehemently opposed intervention on constitutional grounds, saying there is no immediate threat to the U.S. from Syria.