During the question and answer portion of his 30-minute talk to the local Rotary, Gingrey fielded a comment from the audience that just a short while earlier President Barack Obama had won critical support from House Speaker John Boehner for a punitive strike against Syria.
Gingrey said he was caught off guard by the decision made by his party’s leader in the House.
“We’ve got some serious deciding to do about Syria,” Gingrey said.
Boehner said in announcing his decision that the United States has “enemies around the world that need to understand that we’re not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it’s necessary.”
Also Tuesday, senior Cabinet officials labored to convince Congress that Bashar Assad’s government must be punished for a suspected chemical weapons attack the administration blames for more than 1,000 dead.
Gingrey, a Marietta Republican who represents all of Cherokee County in Congress and is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, said earlier in a statement that the U.S. “must not get mired down in the Syrian civil war.”
But he did say in the statement that the use of chemical weapons was intolerable.
The debate in Congress over possible military action in the Middle East comes after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
President Obama said he has decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria but is seeking congressional authorization. A vote is expected after Congress returns to work Sept. 9.
Gingrey also talked about the need to support returning veterans whether they served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or eventually Syria.
“We cannot renege on a promise we made,” Gingrey said.
He also expressed a need to limit the reach of the federal government, and pointed to his Energy and Commerce committee’s recent unanimous decision to repeal a flawed Medicare payment program.
— The Associated Press contributed to this article.