President Barack Obama said in a nationally televised address Tuesday night that recent diplomatic steps offer "the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons" inside Syria without the use of force, but he also insisted the U.S. military will keep the pressure on President Bashar Assad "and be ready to respond" if other measures fail.
President Obama will start his speech with little support for military strikes from Minnesota's congressional delegation:
Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann came out early and strongly against the idea of military action. Nolan has clashed with White House officials over the issues and been invited to special briefings on the issue.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat, came out this week against strikes, after a district meeting where all his constituents weighed in against the idea. See more here:Walz won't support Syria strike
U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican who had been counted as a likely supporter of military action earlier, on Tuesday said he could not support Obama's use of force authorization request. See more here: Rep. Kline opposes Syria strike
Also on Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who had been leaning toward supporting Obama's request, voiced new concerns about the request. " I've studied the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I am concerned that its scope is too broad," he said in a statement. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has not said how she would vote.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum is also looking for a narrow response: "President Obama is correct – a forceful, coordinated international response to the Assad regime’s crimes is needed. Yet, an open-ended, poorly defined authorization for the use of military force is not acceptable to me, but neither is the prospect of doing nothing in the face of this evil act against innocent civilians," she said in a statement.
U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, and Erik Paulsen, a Republican, have also voiced opposition to the request. On Tuesday, Paulsen joined in a bipartisan push create a Syrian war crimes tribunal. "The appropriate course of action is for the United States to lead an international effort to prosecute those responsible for the use of chemical weapons for war crimes before an international criminal tribunal," he said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat, has also been seen as a supporter of limited action. "I do believe in a limited strike and that it should be no more than 60 days, no American boots on the ground. It should be designed to degrade the chemical weapons capability of the Assad regime," he told WCCO TV over the weekend.