"The Syrian regime's actions and policies, including pursuing chemical and biological weapons, supporting terrorist organizations, and obstructing the Lebanese government's ability to function effectively, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," Obama wrote in a note that was read on the House floor Tuesday.

"For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect the national emergency declared with respect to this threat and to maintain in force the sanctions to address this national emergency."

Obama added that his administration condemns the Asad regime's "brutal violence and human rights abuses" against its people, and said it would reconsider sanctions if the Syrian government changes.

Under Executive Orders approved over the last decade, the U.S. sanctions against Syria include the denial of U.S. entry visas to Syrians guilty of human rights abuses, the blocking of Syrian property in the United States, and preventing senior Syrian officials from entering the United States.