declaration of war

House members seek congressional authorization for Syria intervention

UPDATE: Rigell’s office now reports that 140 House members have signed the letter. An update copy of it can be found below. The story has been updated to reflect the current number of signatories.

Scores of members of the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for any military action that his administration plans to take in Syria.

The White House has said that President Obama will consult leaders in Congress about the planned air strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, which is the administration’s response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. But that’s not enough for House members who note that a president is legally required to seek authorization from Congress before using force overseas.

“We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,” wrote Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who has circulated the letter to his colleagues in the House, gathering 140 signatories from members of both parties.

Rigell noted that the Founders gave the executive branch the power to take action during emergencies, but he pointed out that Syria doesn’t represent a direct threat to the security of the United States.

House bringing up the rear on Libya

Well after the 90 time limit for President Obama to bring US troops home since he didn’t have Congressional approval under the War Powers Act, the House is looking at either approving or ending the Libya mission.  Welcome to the party folks, but the truth is that President Obama should have already brought the troops home from this one.

From The Hill:

Whether either resolution will have the support to pass the House is unclear. While the House has come close to blocking funds for the mission in recent weeks, a measure authorizing the operation could draw support from Republicans whose concerns have focused on the lack of congressional input.

The House is also likely to consider separate proposals to restrict funding for the Libya campaign as part of a Defense appropriations bill this week.

[Emphasis mine]

The truth is that Congress really only has one option, and that’s to order the cessation of all military activities connected with Libyan operations, even in a support capacity.  I’m fine with stipulations that permit US personnel to intervene in search and rescue activities in international waters, things like that, but nothing more.  Failure to do so will set a dangerous precedent that future presidents may seize and use in violation of the law.

President Obama engaged in military operations without Congressional approval for over 60 days.  By law, he had an additional 30 days to bring troops home.  He didn’t.  House Republicans, if the choose to allow authorization at this point in time, will effectively say “Oh, it’s not a problem.  Laws don’t apply to the President, even when the explicitly say they do” and permit him to continue his activities.

Barack Obama’s Imperial iPhone Presidency

Obama's iPhone Presidency

President Obama, discarding once and for all any pretense of respect for the Constitution and the limits it places on the chief executive under the Separation of Powers doctrine, infamously declared in January of this year, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone…And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”

Those are not the words of a president in our constitutional republic; those are the words of a petty tyrant.

Obama has made good on his promise though. In violation of the so-called Affordable Care Act, the very law that he championed and that passed on a strictly party-line vote without a single Republican in support, Obama has unilaterally delayed and changed provisions of the law dozens of times. He extended deadlines, granted waivers to the politically-connected, and laughed off his promise that no federal taxpayer dollars would be used to fund abortions.

In a blatantly transparent move to gain more Hispanic votes for Democrats, Obama has refused to enforce our immigration laws even as hundreds of thousands of illegals pour over the border from Mexico, including tens of thousands of children he willingly uses as pawns in his political game. Not until word started leaking out about many of these children dying during the journey, or being physically and sexually assaulted, or sold into slavery, did Obama even make a pretense of stemming the tide of illegals.

Rand Paul: “U.S. should not fight a war to save face”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has emerged as one of the strongest voices against President Barack Obama’s push for war in Syria. He strongly challenged Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week, challenging the administration to respect whatever decision Congress makes on intervention in the Middle Eastern nation.

Critics charge that Paul is an “isolationist.” Of course, that’s just not true. What Paul has espoused is a constitutional foreign policy, one that respects our obligations, but challenges the idea that the United States is the “policeman of the word.”

In a departure from both Republicans and Democrats, Paul believes the United States should be reluctant to get involved in foreign conflicts and that a president should seek approval from Congress before any military action is taken, which is the constitutional obligation of the commender-in-chief.

But Paul doesn’t believe that the United States should intervene in the civil war in Syria, where rebels are fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In an op-ed at Time, the Kentucky Senator explains why he will vote against President Obama’s war.

“War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened. I don’t think the situation in Syria passes that test,” wrote Paul. “Even the State Department argues that ‘there’s no military solution here that’s good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution.’”

FreedomWorks urges “no” vote on Syria war resolution

FreedomWorks -- Syria

The push from the Tea Party against the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in Syria just got a little stronger.

FreedomWorks, a grassroots group with more than six million members, announced this morning that they are urging members of Congress to vote against the Syria resolution. They will also score the vote on their scorecard.

“Congress should be focusing on the red ink at home, not arbitrarily established red lines abroad. As a membership organization, FreedomWorks has been overwhelmed with requests to help activists express their voice in this debate,” said Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks. “A broad coalition of Americans, including the millions of grassroots activists represented in the FreedomWorks community, has already roundly rejected the Obama Administration’s rationale for bombing Syria. Congress ignores the will of the voters on this issue at their own peril.”

Kibbe said the vote represents the “‘insiders versus the rest of us’ dynamic” that is so prevalent in Washington, comparing the Syria resolution to the TARP bailout. He went onto note that the limited military strikes the Obama Administration is proposing may well turn into a costly, prolonged engagement.

“When they convene, Congress will consider short-term actions. They should also reflect upon long-term costs associated with those actions,” he said. “There is no guarantee that ‘limited’ military operations in Syria will lead to a ‘limited’ result. The costs of brinksmanship in an ongoing civil war are steep, and a collapse of state would fall in our laps. In other words, if we break it, we buy it.”

John McCain apparently hasn’t read the Constitution

It comes as no surprise that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is clamoring for war against Syria. He’s been one of the loudest voices pushing the Obama Administration to fund rebels — including an al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front — who are fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But McCain, in his desire for war, is criticizing President Barack Obama for going to Congress to seek authorization for military force in the Middle Eastern country. During an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Old Guard Republican said that he is worried about having “535 commanders in chief,” referencing Congress:

In a slew of media appearances Tuesday morning, McCain said he would not vote for a resolution that doesn’t do enough in Syria, nor one that significantly constrains the president’s powers.

“I think it would be a very serious situation where we are now 535 commanders in chief. Look, the president of the United States is the only commander,” McCain said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “Other presidents have acted in keeping with the War Powers Act. And so I think that it would be, frankly, it would be a risk. If I thought it was a meaningless resolution that constrained the president from doing what’s necessary, I couldn’t vote for it.”

The Arizona Republican said if a resolution in Congress doesn’t meet certain criteria, he won’t support it, even though he stands by what he said in front of the White House on Monday, that it would be “catastrophic” if the vote in Congress fails.

John Boehner, Eric Cantor back military intervention Syria

The White House scored a victory yesterday by convincing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to support military intervention in Syria, hoping that the two will be able to gather support from skeptical Republicans.

President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders yesterday a the White House to make his case for intervention in the Syrian civil war after the alleged use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“These weapons have to be responded to. Only the United States has the capacity and the capability to stop Assad or warn others around the world that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” said Boehner after the meeting. “I appreciate the president reaching out to me and my colleagues in Congress over the past few weeks.”

Cantor followed suit. I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria,” he said in a statement.

“Bashar Assad’s Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, is the epitome of a rogue state, and it has long posed a direct threat to American interests and to our partners,” he added. “The ongoing civil war in Syria has enlarged this threat.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who also attended the meeting with President Obama, is still skeptical about intervention.

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.

Biden floated impeachment for unilateral military action in 2007

If only Democrats held the same standards by which they held George W. Bush, maybe President Barack Obama would think twice about many of his unconstitutional usurpations of executive power.

During a forum in 2007, then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) told a crowd that he would move to impeach then-President George W. Bush if he bombed Iran without congressional authorization:

Biden spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 100 at a candidate forum held Thursday at Seacoast Media Group. The forum focused on the Iraq war and foreign policy. When an audience member expressed fear of a war with Iran, Biden said he does not typically engage in threats, but had no qualms about issuing a direct warning to the Oval Office.

“The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach,” said Biden, whose words were followed by a raucous applause from the local audience.

Biden’s criticism was completely valid at the time, just as it is today. He noted the limitations President Bush under the War Power Resolution, and pointed out that he had to come to Congress to get authorization before launching any attack on Iran.

This wasn’t a one-off comment either. Biden further explained to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews why impeachment was possible over an unauthorized strike.

Rand Paul: There is no national security interest in Syria

In a statement this afternoon from his office, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) weighed in on the potential military action that the Obama Administration is weighing against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. He also said that President Barack Obama must seek congressional authorization for launching any military action against the Middle Eastern nation.

“The United States should condemn the use of chemical weapons. We should ascertain who used the weapons and we should have an open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement,” said Paul, who has been a critic of the prevailing foreign policy views of the Washington establishment. “The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress not the President.”

“The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States,” he added.

Paul joined Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to introduce legislation that would prohibit the Obama Administration from providing military aid to Syrian rebels, which includes the al-Nusra Front, an organization connected to al-Qaeda.

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