Minnesota's Congressional delegation weighs in on Obama's Syria plan


President Barack Obama issued a surprise announcement Saturday, saying that he will he will first seek Congressional approval before taking military action against Syria. The Associated Press reported that Obama decided that Congressional authorization would make the U.S. action stronger.

Minnesota's Congressional delegation has reacted in a series of interviews and statements.

KARE 11 collected comments from the state's two DFL senators, who, not surprisingly, supported the President's strategy.

"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," said a statement from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who added, "I continue to strongly believe that we should not have American troops on the ground in Syria."

In his statement, Sen. Al Franken said the U.S. action should be limited, whatever form it takes. "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," Franken said.

MPR rounded up statements from some of the Congressional representatives from the state.

"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.

"We are not talking about sending a message to Syria. We are talking about sending bombs. That should never be done without Congressional approval," said Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan in a statement on his Congressional web page.

"I am adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East and plan to vote against military intervention in Syria," Republican Rep. Bachmann said in her statement, which, while agreeing with the President's decision, blamed his policies for destabilizing the region. "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."

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison's statement addressed the political stakes for the President, saying, "If he does nothing, they’ll beat him up that. If he does something, they’ll beat up with that. So, why not get people on record from the beginning?”

Speaking to the Jamestown (N.D) Sun on Friday, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson said he doesn’t support any action, at least for now. “There is no strategic threat to the United States,” he said.

Republican Rep. John Kline is keeping mum on the issue, with a statement that said: “As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Kline participated in a conference call Friday with the White House on Syria and he has no further comment at this time.”

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen has made no recent comment regarding Syria and has issued no statement. There is nothing regarding his position on his House page, his Facebook page, or his Twitter account.

Congress returns from the summer recess on Sept. 9.

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