President Barack Obama, addressing the public on Saturday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden, said he had decided to use military force in Syria in response to use of chemical weapons there – but he will seek the authorization of Congress. In the wake of the speech, several members of Minnesota's Washington delegation reacted.
"Today I'm asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are united as one nation," Obama said.
He also said, "We should have this debate."
Obama's words seemed to signal that a U.S. attack on Syria was not imminent. Instead, Obama set the table for a divisive debate in Congress. Obama did not clarify if he would authorize a strike if Congress rejects his plan, the New York Times noted.
Nevertheless, WCCO Radio reports that protesters already took to the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis Saturday afternoon, and a larger anti-war rally is planned for Tuesday on the U of M campus.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Republican from Minnesota's 6th District, said in a statement: “The prospect of military intervention in Syria demands a robust public debate, and President Obama made the correct constitutional decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of military force."
Obama said the use of a chemical weapons attack earlier this month, which White House officials say was carried out by the Syrian regime, was “an attack on human dignity.”
Obama also said he did not intend to commit combat troops. White House officials have said they are considering a limited, brief strike.
Obama said, "I know well that we are weary of war." He added, "But we are the United States of America. We cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus."
"This can’t be an open-ended commitment," Sen. Al Franken, the Democrat from Minnesota, said, according to Minnesota Public Radio. "And it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground."
MPR has compiled a list of statements from Minnesota's Washington delegation, and notes that Rep. John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota's 2nd District, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, participated in a conference call Friday with the White House on Syria and he has no further comment at this time
KARE 11 has a more extensive list of statements here.
Senior White House officials scheduled phone calls with congressional leaders on Saturday as the administration continued to make its case for a military strike, the Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, the House will consider granting President Obama authorization to strike Syria the week of Sept. 9, House leaders said Saturday, according to The Hill.
Just two minutes after Obama's speech, forces again began shelling rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, which had halted for several hours, NBC News reported.
Here is a brief clip from Obama's remarks (Below that is his speech in its entirety):