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Some US Lawmakers Demand Congressional Approval on Syria

  • Cindy Saine

FILE - President Barack Obama arrives in State Dining Room of the White House, June 14, 2013.

FILE - President Barack Obama arrives in State Dining Room of the White House, June 14, 2013.

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling on President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval before authorizing any military strikes in Syria in response to alleged chemical weapon attacks by President Bashar al-Assad.

Although White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president is consulting with House and Senate leaders, he did not say whether Obama will seek authorization from Congress for prospective military actions.

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expressing concern that Obama may order limited military action in Syria without seeking congressional approval.

"I think it’s essential that President Obama comes to Congress, asks for authorization [for a strike on Syria], receives it or not receives it, and then acts with the willingness of the United States Congress," Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). "That’s what President Bush did for previous wars."

"I believe a missile strike against al-Assad forces is imminent, and I think that all we will get from President Obama with getting the help of Congress is he will notify us: ‘in 20 minutes, the strikes will begin,'" she added. "And that will just about be it."

Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria and is calling for robust Congressional debate before any U.S. military action is taken.

Pressed about calls for congressional authorization, White House spokesman Jay Carney Tuesday indicated the president believes consulting with congressional leaders is enough.

"We are engaging in what we believe our responsibility is here, which is to consult with Congress," he said. "That process is under way."

Congressman Scott Rigell (R-Va.) is asking fellow representatives to sign a letter to the president calling on him to reconvene Congress and seek approval for any military action. Congress is in recess for two more weeks. Rigell and others have invoked the War Powers Resolution, which requires congressional authorization within 60 days of military action, but both Republican and Democratic presidents have disregarded the resolution in the past.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, is calling on the president to consult with Congress on what he considers his viable options.

A few members of Congress support limited military action in Syria, including Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have criticized the president for not acting earlier.

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