Syrian Update: Obama Allows Congress to Weigh In; Putin, UN Already Doing So

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- An aide to House Speaker John Boehner says the speaker's office has received a White House draft of a resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to use military force against Syria.
The draft follows through on Obama's decision, announced Saturday, to seek congressional approval for a strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
The resolution lays out the administration's claim that the regime killed more than 1,000 last week in a chemical weapons attack. It says the objective of a U.S. military response would be to "deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade" the regime's ability to use chemical weapons going forward.
The resolution authorizes Obama to use the military as he determines "necessary and appropriate" to serve that goal.
The draft doesn't lay out a timeline for action. But it does say only a political settlement can resolve the Syrian crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says public hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee and classified and unclassified briefings for senators are being scheduled for next week.
Both the Senate and the House plan a vote on the matter no later than the week of Sept. 9.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senior administration officials say President Barack Obama had planned to take military action against Syria without congressional authorization, but told aides Friday night that he had changed his mind.
Obama announced Saturday that he wanted to launch a military strike, but would first seek lawmakers' approval.
The officials describe a president overriding all his top national security advisers, who believe consulting with Congress was sufficient.
The officials say Obama spent the week wrestling with Congress' role and made the decision Friday after a lengthy discussion with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough. They say Obama decided seeking approval would make the U.S. stronger even though he still believes he has the authority to act alone.
The administration officials requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss Obama's decision-making by name.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Members of Congress are grappling with whether to sign off on President Barack Obama's plan to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack.
The debate over what action, if any, Congress might approve is in its infancy as lawmakers prepare for public hearings next week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the first contours began emerging within hours of Obama's announcement.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn (KOHR'-nihn) of Texas says he doesn't believe Syria should go unpunished for the attack. But, he says, "we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is." He adds, "What the president may perceive as limited ... won't stop there."
Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are arguing for a strategy that seeks to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. They've issued a joint statement saying any operation should be broader in scope than the "limited" scope Obama described. They call the conflict in Syria "a growing threat to our national security interests."

PARIS (AP) -- France will wait for its parliament and the U.S. Congress to consider possible military action on Syria before making a decision about whether to launch strikes against Bashar Assad's regime.
The comments from an official in President Francois Hollande's (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWNDZ') office come as the world reacts to word from President Barack Obama that he believes the United States should respond with force over an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime, but that he has decided to put the issue before Congress first.
Unlike in Britain, Hollande does not need the permission of parliament to order France to intervene militarily. Britain's parliament rejected efforts by Prime Minister David Cameron to involve British forces.
After Obama's speech, Cameron tweeted: "I understand and support Barack Obama's position on (hash)Syria."
Meanwhile, Egypt's foreign minister says Cairo rejects military intervention in Syria except under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, whereby it is proven the country has become a danger to international peace and security. He's also asking that any decision be put off until U.N. investigators report their findings.
Jordan, a close U.S. ally, says diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before Washington opts for the military option.
The country's information minister says a diplomatic solution must take into consideration the "people's unity and territorial integrity."

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging President Barack Obama not to rush into any decision on striking Syria, but to consider whether strikes would help end the violence and be worth the likely civilian casualties.
Saturday's statements were the first from Putin since the suspected chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21.
Putin advised Obama to reflect on the results of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq before deciding to unleash air strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The top U.N. spokesman says any notion that the departure of the U.N. chemical weapons inspection team from Syria opens a window for a U.S. attack is "grotesque."
Spokesman Martin Nesirky notes that about 1,000 international and U.N. staff remain in Syria, and the United Nations is just as concerned about their welfare as it is about its team of inspectors. He also says the Syrian population would be vulnerable to harm.
Nesirky spoke at a news conference Saturday after U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane briefed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the investigation into the alleged chemical weapons strike outside Damascus.
Nesirky says Ban will be briefed further by the head of the UN chemical weapons team Sunday. The team is in Europe and will have to analyze the evidence in laboratories before making their report.