TODAY   |  September 01, 2013

Obama sends resolution on Syria to Congress

After seemingly preparing for military action in Syria, President Obama announced Saturday he would put the matter to a vote, and drafted a formal request for Congress to consider. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> do want to begin, though, with the latest on the president's surprising move to hold off on military action against syria until congress takes a vote. kristen welker with a look at what led to the president's dramatic decision. good morning. not what people were expecting yesterday.

>> reporter: not at all. good morning to you, erica. well, the white house has sent this resolution over to congress requesting authorization for military action against syria . it's short. only about a page and a paragraph long. but it represents a huge political gamble for president obama . if congress votes no, he risks looking weak on the world's stage. after he spent a week building his case for a military strike against syria , a striking reversal from the commander in chief.

>> i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people 's representatives in congress .

>> reporter: hours later, the white house released the formal resolution asking for congressional approval saying limited military action would send a clear message of american resolve. but some say president obama and future presidents could pay a price for the political 180.

>> we are already hearing it from some members of congress that he's weakened the power of the presidency.

>> reporter: just a day earlier the president and secretary of state john kerry indicated military action against syria was imminent, navy warships were in place, and they took their case to the nation.

>> this is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons . this is what assad did to his own people.

>> reporter: but aides say after all the lobbying, the president decide decided to put it to a congressional vote following a walk with his chief of staff friday night.

>> the honorable gentleman for his point of order --

>> reporter: swayed in part by the no vote in the british parliament , all leading up to a flurry of meeting with top advisers and phone calls to congressional leaders.

>> and i'm prepared to give that order.

>> reporter: while some lawmakers are praising the decision --

>> i am very glad that president obama has listened to the bi-pa bipartisan calls.

>> reporter: others are sharply critical with new york congressman peter king saying the president is, quote, abdicating his responsibility as commander in chief. and some democrats had encouraged the president to go it alone.

>> i think the war powers act cle clearly gives the president the ability to launch whatever he needs to do.

>> reporter: analysts say the sudden call for a vote is a risky move.

>> and if if congress tells him no, it will be very difficult for him to go forward politically.

>> reporter: administration officials say they were stunned by the president's decision friday night. and many of them were opposed to it. after all, he had walked the military to the edge of action, but, they say, by saturday they were onboard. congress will officially take up the measure the week of september 9 when they return from recess be a, by the way, after president obama made that announcement in the rose garden , he played a round of golf. erica?

>> kristen well can kerr at the white house this morning, thanks.