President Obama meets at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner, national security adviser Susan Rice and others about Syria.
(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
(USA TODAY) -- Taking his case against Syria to the nation's airwaves, President Obama said Monday he doesn't yet know if he will order military strikes even if the House or Senate reject the idea.
"It's fair to say I haven't decided," Obama told NBC News, one of six television interviews conducted at the White House.
Obama also told network anchors he isn't confident he has the votes in Congress right now, and that final votes could be delayed.
"We're going to spend this week talking to members of Congress, answering their questions, and I'm going to speak to the American people tomorrow night directly," Obama NBC News, adding that he'll evaluate military plans after Congress votes.
See also: Obama: I might lose congressional vote Syria
"I've made my decision about what I think is best for America's national interests," he said, "but this is one where I think it's important for me to play close attention to what Congress and the American people say."
In a session with ABC News, Obama said that "I don't anticipate that you would see a succession of votes this week or anytime in the immediate future."
One reason: A new proposal by Russia -- a Syria ally -- to have Bashar Assad's government place its chemical weapons under international control.
The United States will evaluate that plan, Obama said, though he told CBS News "we don't know the details of it yet."
But, he told CNN, "we're going to take this seriously," and said to PBS that he has discussed the idea with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Fox, Obama said he is open to a "diplomatic track."
The president's prime time speech on Syria is 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Obama plans to attend the weekly policy luncheons of Senate Democrats and Republicans, just ahead of a key vote set for Wednesday.
In the coming days, the Republican-run House is also expected to vote on whether to authorize military action against Syria.
As polls reflect major public opposition, Obama faces uphill battles in both chambers.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said Monday she would vote to oppose military force, adding that the proposed resolution "falls short because it calls for military action in Syria without carefully looking at diplomatic or alternative solutions."
Heitkamp said she would work with another Senate opponent, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on an alternative giving Assad 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban and begin turning over his own stockpiles.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he would vote against the resolution, citing "too much uncertainty about what comes next." Other Senate Republicans expressed similar sentiments.
Russia -- which has opposed U.S. calls for action against Syria in the wake of a chemical weapons attack Aug. 21 -- offered its own peace plan shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry said in London that Assad could end the crisis by turning over all his chemical weapons.
Hours later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his government would push Syria to place the chemical weapons under international control for dismantling, a proposal the Syrian government said it would embrace.
The proposal won plaudits from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon who urged Syria to agree.