Lawmakers warn Obama to consult on Syria

By Garth Kant

Opposition is growing quickly against President Obama ordering a military strike on Syria without gaining authorization from Congress.

A representative for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told WND, “Sen. Lee believes the situation in Syria is not an imminent threat to American national security and, therefore, does not support military intervention.”

“Before taking action, the president should first come present his plan to Congress outlining the approach, cost, objectives and timeline, and get authorization from Congress for his proposal,” Lee added.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told WND, “If President Obama decides that the use of military force in Syria is necessary, he first needs to make his case to the country and seek authorization from Congress as the Constitution requires. I would vote against military intervention in Syria.”

She continued, “I am already troubled by the Obama administration sending arms to the Syrian rebels, who have connections to al-Qaida-linked groups. We have two very bad options in Syria, but the last thing that the American people want is to get in the middle of a conflict in Syria that doesn’t represent an imminent threat to America or our national security interests.”

Bachmann co-authored bipartisan legislation blocking unilateral military intervention in Syria back in June.

“I agree with Joe Biden – the president should come before Congress asking for a declaration before he strikes,” Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, told WND.

The congressman was referring to statement by Biden back in 2007, when, as a senator he said, “The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war … unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked.”

Biden even suggested it was an impeachable offense for the president to order an attack on another country without congressional authorization.

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And that is exactly what is seems President Obama is poised to do – order a military strike on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons against it’s own people on Aug. 21.

That’s why Stockman said, “I am reaching out across the aisle – shaking hands with Joe Biden – and saying I agree with him.”

Stockman would also likely agree with then-Sen. Barack Obama, who said in 2007, “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Obama insisted the president can act unilaterally only in “instances of self-defense.”

“It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action,” he maintained.

Stockman expressed concern about the consequences of an attack on Syria, saying if U.S. forces do strike, they should take out Syria’s delivery systems, but his “hunch is they’re just going to do enough to tick him (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) off and cause a greater conflict.”

“His (Obama’s) ability to make a situation worse in the Middle East is as bad as any president in the history of our country. That area in the Middle East is much worse now and much more dangerous than when he took office,” observed Stockman.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, “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. 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 concluded.

The White House has given no indication it intends to seek authorization from either Congress or the United Nations for a strike on Syria.

A letter to the president authored by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., demands the president first acquire consent from Congress, citing the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

More than 80 lawmakers have signed the letter so far. It was to be sent to the president Wednesday at 3:00 Eastern Time.

The letter reads, “Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

The White House claims Syria does present a threat to the U.S.

“Allowing the use of chemical weapons on a significant scale to take place without a response would present a significant challenge to or threat to the United States’ national security,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, without elaborating on why that is so.

Carney also stated the options the White House is considering, which reportedly include cruise missile strikes, would be a response to “a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons” but “they would not be aimed at removing Assad from power.

“The options that we are considering are not about regime change,” said Carney, despite the fact the administration does, in fact, want Assad to leave power, as a result of negotiations with rebels.

The text of the letter urging Obama to seek congressional approval for a military strike, and a list of the signees, is below.

August 28, 2013
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.

While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate — and the active engagement of Congress — prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.

Mr. President, in the case of military operations in Libya you stated that authorization from Congress was not required because our military was not engaged in “hostilities.” In addition, an April 1, 2011, memorandum to you from your Office of Legal Counsel concluded:

“… President Obama could rely on his constitutional power to safeguard the national interest by directing the anticipated military operations in Libya –which were limited in their nature, scope, and duration — without prior congressional authorization.”

We view the precedent this opinion sets, where “national interest” is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional.

If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute “hostilities,” what does?

If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.

Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02) Republican
Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) Republican
Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) Republican
Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) Republican
Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04) Republican
Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10) Republican
Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01) Republican
Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) Republican
Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) Republican
Rep. Tim Griffin (AR-2) Republican
Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03) Republican
Rep. Raul Labrabor (ID-01) Republican
Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA-16) Republican
Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-08) Republican
Rep. John Campbell (CA-45) Republican
Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) Republican
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) Republican
Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) Republican
Rep. Charles Boustany (LA-03) Republican
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) Republican
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) Republican
Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08) Republican
Rep. Bill Posey (FL-8) Republican
Rep. Randy Forbes (VA-04) Republican
Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11) Republican
Rep. David Roe (TN-01) Republican
Rep. Mark Sanford (SC-01) Republican
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (TN-02) Republican
Rep. Reid Ribble (WI-08) Republican
Rep. James Lankford (OK-05) Republican
Rep. Bill Cassidy (LA-06) Republican
Rep. Stephen Fincher (TN-08) Republican
Rep. Trey Radel (FL-19) Republican
Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02) Republican
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-02) Republican
Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03) Republican
Rep. David McKinley (WV-01) Republican
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (Fl-12) Republican
Rep. Joseph Heck (NV-03) Republican
Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) Republican
Rep. Billy Long (MO-07) Republican
Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) Republican
Rep. Steven Palazzo (MS-04) Republican
Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS-03) Republican
Rep. Doug Collins(GA-09) Republican
Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-08) Republican
Rep. Gene Green (TX-29) Democrat
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) Democrat
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) Democrat
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) Democrat
Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5) Democrat
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) Democrat
Rep. William Enyart (IL-12) Democrat
Rep. Timothy Walz (MN-01) Democrat
Rep. Christopher Gibson (NY-19) Republican
Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-04) Republican
Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10) Republican
Rep. Michael Capuano (MA-07) Democrat
Rep. Michael Simpson (ID-02) Republican
Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) Republican
Rep. Thomas E. Petri (WI-06) Republican
Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC-09) Republican
Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03) Republican
Rep. Tom Latham (IA-04) Republican
Rep. Richard Nolan (MN-08) Democrat
Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-07) Democrat
Rep. Jim Bentivolio (MI-11) Republican
Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-06) Republican
Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-07) Republican
Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) Democrat
Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA-09) Republican
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) Republican
Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02) Republican
Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25) Republican
Rep. Doug Lamalfa (CA-01) Republican
Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02) Republican
Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20) Democrat
Rep. Steve Daines (MT) Republican
Rep. Robert Hurt (VA-05) Republican
Rep. Steve Southerland, II (FL-2) Republican
Rep. Michele Bachman (MN-06) Republican
Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04) Republican

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