The Corner

Obama: I Went to Congress to Slow Down Debate

President Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization for military strikes on Syria was intended to allow lawmakers to weigh possible options following the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, such as a new proposal from Russia, he said tonight. He indicated that he is now considering backing off his “red line” threat, which at one point seemed to mean certain military action, saying that he “fervently hope[s] this can be resolved in a non-military way.”

When asked by Fox News’s Chris Wallace whether he would delay Congress’s vote to consider a Russian proposal for the Assad regime to give up chemical weapons, the president said, “there’s a reason why I slowed this down to allow for a congressional debate.” He also said he requested authorization from Congress because Syria did not pose a “direct and imminent” threat to the United States, though he believed he had authority to act regardless.

He explained that he expected the process to take even longer, saying, “there was no expectation that Congress would be finished with its deliberation over the next week or so.”

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