Secretary of State John Kerry defended President Obama from the accusation that he gave "a pass" to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad by blaming Congress for the lack of military action against the regime.

"He decided to use military force in Syria," Kerry told NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press." "He also made a decision to respect the requests of many members of Congress to come to them. And guess what? When he did, it was the members of Congress, as you know better than anybody, who balked very significantly, with the exception of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, which took the lead. But the House clearly indicated a very, very strong reluctance to be engaged."

Kerry nonetheless reiterated that the threat of a military strike ultimately convinced Assad to agree to the destruction of his chemical weapons.

"That would never have happened – that deal would never have come about if the president had not made his decision to use force," he said.