MN delegation reacts to Obama plan to seek authorization for Syria strike

President Barack Obama stepped back from a missile attack against Syria on Saturday and instead asked Congress to support a strike punishing Bashar Assad’s regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Obama said he had decided the United States should take military action and that he believes that as commander in chief, he has “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization.”

Congress is scheduled to return from a summer vacation on Sept. 9, and in anticipation of the coming debate, Obama challenged lawmakers to consider “what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price.”

Here are reactions from some members of the Minnesota delegation (or their staff):

Rep. John Kline:

“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.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann:

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

Rep. Tim Walz:

“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.”

Rep. Keith Ellison:

“From a political standpoint, there are clearly people who would want to criticize him no matter what he does. 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?”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

“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.”

Sen. Al Franken:

“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. 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.”