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Sen. Nelson on Syria: 'We should have struck today'

Democratic Senator from Florida (WFTV)
Democratic Senator from Florida (WFTV)
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Updated: 9/04/2013 9:37 am
ORLANDO, Fla. (WFTV) -- President Barack Obama says he intends to seek congressional approval for action against Syria.

Obama spoke on the developments in Syria from the Rose Garden on Saturday.

Sen. Bill Nelson spoke out Saturday in central Florida in support of a strike. 

"As far as I'm concerned, we should have struck today. The President stated that he's going to Congress for authorization, even though he feels he has the authorization to do it as Commander-in-Chief," Nelson said.

A group of locals protested in downtown Orlando against any sort of strike, while another group protested Friday in support of retaliation against Assad for what the United States says is a chemical weapons attack on civilians. 

President Barack Obama's national security team consulted with senators Saturday about Syria, while House Speaker John Boehner invited House members to return early from their August break for a classified briefing as the White House readied for a possible military strike.

Vice President Joe Biden, who was scheduled to be in Delaware this weekend, was instead at the White House, where Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry joined him.

Hagel, Kerry and others were to consult by phone Saturday afternoon with Senate Democrats and Republicans. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, also were to participate.

The White House said the calls would be unclassified, meaning officials would be limited in what they can say.

Nelson said he was on that call.

"My advice is the president should act as Commander-in-Chief. We should make the president of Syria understand that he stepped over the line, that he should never again use a weapon of mass destruction," Nelson said.
Nelson did say the U.S. should not place boots on the ground. 

On Sunday, the White House plans a classified, in-person briefing for House members, according to a notice from Boehner's office to House Republican staffers. House Democrats were planning to invite their members as well.

"This will be one of many classified briefings," read the invitation. "However, given the numerous requests made, the speaker wanted members to have an opportunity this weekend."

The briefing comes a day after the administration publicly released an unclassified intelligence report concluding that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government killed more than 1,400 last week in a chemical attack. A classified version of the assessment arrived on Capitol Hill late Friday night, the GOP notice said, and was available for all House members to review.

Obama is considering a limited military strike in response to the chemical attack.
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