EAST PEORIA, Ill -- Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin spoke with us in an exclusive interview Saturday afternoon.
Senator Durbin says he was briefed on intelligence reports during a phone conference moments before the President's speech.
Those reports suggest the Assad regime has many more chemical weapons, according to Durbin, and the regime has the capacity to deliver those weapons beyond the borders of Syria.
"The Middle East is a pretty compact place, and Syria's surrounded by our friends and allies, such as Jordan and Israel,” says Durbin. “We've got to make sure that whatever we do in the course of protecting our interests is sensitive to the interest of our allies in the region."
Durbin calls the President's decision both powerful and historic in respect to Congress and the voice of the American people.
He also calls the Assad regime's alleged attack on its own people "a moral outrage."
"Ninety-eight percent of the nations in the world have already voted to ban the use of chemical weapons, so it's very clear that we say this is an atrocity,” says Senator Durbin. “It's like a nuclear weapon, something that is just not acceptable in the course of war. The question now is what do you do when somebody violates it."
Senator Durbin says that question will lead to a tough debate, and he is glad the President has challenged Congress to engage in it.