President Barack Obama’s promise to send arms to rebel forces fighting against Bashad al-Assad alongside al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, has been met with much criticism from multiple Senate members. Senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to push legislation that would prohibit the President and the Pentagon from sending rebels any form of aid.
Now, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and nine other House members decided to act by introducing legislation that would challenge the President’s decision by blocking aid that wasn’t previously authorized by Congress.
Co-sponsors include Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
The War Powers Protection Act of 2013 would keep the U.S. from sending any military assistance to the rebel forces unless Congress has issued a formal declaration of war.
Rep. Massie has stated that “since our national security interests in Syria are unclear,” risks could be far too great if we choose to aid rebel forces, particularly now that it has been noted that al Qaeda’s Iraqi wing in Syria insists on fighting alongside the Al-Nusra Front.
The Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that no war can be declared without Congress’ approval, which doesn’t seem to keep the President from continuing with his plan of aiding the rebels.
Rep. Justin Amash, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, has asserted the public that “Congress has not declared war against Syria or otherwise authorized force in that country, yet the President unilaterally has decided to arm the Syrian rebels,” which is an unconstitutional act “and must be stopped.”
According to Rep. Scott DesJarlais, “we could very well be jeopardizing our national security interests by sending weapons to a group with reported ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda.” The feeling of urgency in assuring this bill is passed matches the outrage some members of Congress have expressed once President Obama agreed to send weaponry paid by taxpayers to Syria. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are some of the senators that voiced their support to President Obama on this matter.
Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are sponsoring a bill that would also keep the President from intervening with Syria.
According to the bill introduced by Rep. Massie, if Congress chooses to support the campaign and declare war against Syria, the Secretary of State would then be required to submit a report concerning all groups and organizations being aided by the U.S. military every 90 days thereafter.
Some fear that having the U.S. arming Syrian rebels would only fuel a fragmented group of soldiers fighting for different agendas. Rep. Jones says that regardless of where we stand on this issue, “it is time that we uphold the Constitution, (…) Congress alone holds the power to declare war.”