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Connolly: Vote gives White House time to present case for military force in Syria

Saturday - 8/31/2013, 5:56pm  ET

Seeking congressional OK is welcome move

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia

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WASHINGTON - A Virginia congressman says Congress should vote before the U.S. would intervene in Syria and that the delay will allow the White House to build its case with Americans and the international community.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, tells WTOP that he supports President Barack Obama's decision to obtain authorization from Congress before taking any military action against the Assad regime.

Obama has spent the past few days consulting with congressional leaders and in remarks at the White House Saturday, the president pledged to provide each member with information about Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people and the national security implications for the U.S.

Public opinion supports congressional authorization for military intervention in Syria, Connolly says.

But Congress won't consider a resolution any time soon. Speaker House John Boehner has said the House would consider the measure the week of Sept. 9 and that he would not call lawmakers back early from the August recess.

The delay will give Obama time to shore up international support and to lay out his case to Congress, Connolly says.

Earlier this week, Britain, the nation's top ally, rejected any military involvement in Syria. But the British Parliament's vote shouldn't affect Congress' decision, Connolly says.

"The shadow of Iraq and that sorry experience clearly influenced the British Parliament and is clearly something that's on the minds of most members of Congress," Connolly says. "The two are really not analogous. Nobody is talking about going to war and putting troops on the ground in Syria. What we're taking about is a limited, contained response to deter the Assad regime from ever again deploying chemical weapons."

He says even though the Syrian civil war poses no direct threat to national security, the U.S. as the lone remaining super power has to "step up to its international responsibilities."

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, told WTOP Friday that Congress should ends its vacation early and vote on whether to use military force in Syria. Wolf and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, declined to comment Saturday.

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WTOP's Hank Silverberg and Amanda Iacone contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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