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Local Leaders Weigh In On President's Statement On Syria

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Local leaders are weighing in following strong words from President Obama Saturday afternoon as the situation in Syria intensifies.

In a statement from the Rose Garden, the President says he will seek congressional approval before taking any military action.

"After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets," President Obama said.

President Obama says he's ready to give the order, but will ask Congress to authorize the use of military force against Syria.

"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course," President Obama said.

The White House says evidence shows Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime launched a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people including 426 children on Aug. 21.

"Here's my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community, 'What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?'"

The United Nations is also investigating what happened in Syria. The UN team that went to the site of the alleged attack says it could take up to three weeks to complete its report.

"What they need to do is analyze the samples and work on all of the other material, evidence that they have collected, so they can come up with their findings," a UN official said.

As the President announced he already has all the evidence he needs to launch an attack, hundreds demonstrated outside the White House gates against the use of force in Syria.

President Obama says any military action would be limited and would not include soldiers on the ground.

Following the President's statement, local lawmakers are weighing in on his decision to seek congressional approval.

"I'm very concerned about the situation in Syria, very concerned about the idea of using military force," said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus. "Look, you know, what happened in Syria was a crime against humanity – the use of chemical weapons – that does not mean however that United State military action, if we don't know, is appropriate."

Rothfus later released this statement: "President Obama is right to seek authorization from Congress before taking military action. I will attend the briefings, review the documents, confer with my colleagues and listen to my constituents before the House votes."

"I think that's a good move on the President's part," U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle said. "I think this gives him a chance to make his case to Congress and to the American people about why this action is necessary and in the interest of the United States."

Sen. Bob Casey released this statement after the announcement: "I think a debate on Syria policy is very important and I wish it had started sooner. In 2011, I laid out a comprehensive approach to the Syrian crisis that would confront the Assad regime and protect U.S. national security interests. And last November, I called for a more assertive approach to the conflict in Syria because I believe the Assad regime is a threat to both regional stability and the United States' broader national security interests. I have no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people. Every day that Assad remains in power helps Iran and Hezbollah who plot against the United States and its allies. I believe that it is in the U.S. national security interest to respond to this most recent chemical attack. I appreciate the Administration's efforts to consult with Congress about the situation."

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy has released this statement: "Congressional authorization is required for this action. I am anxious to be briefed by the Administration, see the evidence they've gathered and better understand the proposed military strike plan. The President has not provided any consistency or clarity on his Mideast policies, and he has not always acted when his so-called 'red lines' have been crossed. I want to know why this circumstance is different. I also want to know what plan, if any, exists to deal with potential retaliation from United States military strikes that could deepen and widen this conflict. Many questions must be answered if we are to move forward and go it alone."

Also, Rep. Mike Kelly, released a statement following President Obama's address. It reads: "With today's announcement, the United States Congress now has a very important debate to carry out and, ultimately, an extraordinary decision to make. The commitment of American forces to any situation in the world is the most serious matter that could possibly come before us. I enthusiastically await the chance to discuss this decision with my colleagues in the House, and believe that a truly rigorous debate will allow us to act in the best interests of the American people, our national security, and liberty and justice abroad. Between now and then, I expect President Obama to adequately answer all of the lingering questions that Americans still have, and fully explain the defined objective of an American military strike, the precise strategy for carrying it out, and how it involves our national security interest. Most importantly, I want to hear from my constituents in the Third District and encourage them to be as forthcoming as possible with their opinions and concerns in the days and weeks ahead."

House leaders say a debate and vote on military action could take place the week of Sept. 9 when Congress returns from vacation.

CBS News' Coverage of the Syria Crisis
Obama Will Seek Congressional Approval On Syria (8/31/13)
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