He says congressional leadership plans to hold a debate and a vote as soon as Congress comes back in September.
Obama says he has the authority to act on his own, but believes it is important for the country to have a debate.
Military action would be in response to a chemical weapons attack the U.S. says Syrian President Bashar Assad's government carried out against civilians. The U.S. says more than 1,400 Syrians were killed in that attack last week.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the president's role as commander in chief is strengthened when he has the support of lawmakers.
McConnell made the comment in a statement confirming President Barack Obama's announcement that he had told congressional leaders he wanted to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack but would first seek congressional approval.
Lawmakers had widely called for Obama to include Congress in the decision under the War Powers Act.
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