President Barack Obama said Saturday that though the American military is ready to strike Syrian targets, he first wants Congress to debate and vote on the mission.
"We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual," he said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden.
Obama has faced growing skepticism from the American people and little support from Congress.
But most members have stopped short of outright opposition; they want more information and they want a say.
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The president was resolute that he has the authority—and the case—to strike.
He cited the evidence laid out Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry, and talked about "hospitals overflowing with victims, terrible images of the dead. All told well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children." "This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery on the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons," the president said.
He now wants consent from Congress, and urged it to put aside partisan differences. "Ultimately this is not about who occupies this office at any given time, it's about who we are as a country," Obama said.