More House members urge White House for vote on Syria intervention

Members of the House of Representatives have signed two separate letters urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization before he launches a military strike against Syria.

In addition to the 140 signatories from both parties on the letter from Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) penned a separate missive yesterday that received support from 53 House Democrats.

“While we understand that as Commander in Chief you have a constitutional obligation to protect our national interests from direct attack, Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force, even if the United States or its direct interests (such as its embassies) have not been attacked or threatened with an attack,” wrote Lee in her letter to President Obama. “As such, we strongly urge you to seek an affirmative decision of Congress prior to committing any U.S. military engagement to this complex crisis.”

Lee expressed concern for human rights violations and “horrific” loss of life in Syria, but she explained that this “should not draw us into an unwise war.” The letter also lends support to efforts in the United Nations Security Council to build an “international consensus condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons” and any potential response.

“As elected officials, we have a duty to represent the will and priorities of our constituents consistent with the Constitution we all swore to uphold and defend. Before weighing the use of military force, Congress must fully debate and consider the facts and every alternative, as well as determine how best to end the violence and protect civilians,” she added. “We stand ready to work with you.”

Rigell has urged Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to call the House back into session so the chamber can assert its constitutional obligation. For his part, Boehner has asked President Obama some tough questions about his administration’s plans for military action in Syria, though he didn’t ask if the White House planned to seek congressional authorization.

Unlike President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who supports intervention in Syria, called Parliament into an emergency session on Thursday to debate military force against the Middle Eastern country. Parliament rejected involvement in Syria, a vote that Cameron says he will respect.


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