Top Senate Republican Says Obama Should Get Authorization For Military Action In Syria


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CREDIT: Fox News

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee said on Tuesday that he is satisfied with the amount of consultation the Obama administration has provided on its plans for responding to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons but that the White House should at some point seek Congressional authorization for military action in Syria.

“They are honoring the War Powers Resolution, which says that they have to consult with Congress,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said on Fox News on Tuesday. “But I would hope they would also come back and seek an authorization. The president does have the ability as commander-in-chief to start activities like those that are being discussed, but I think he’s much better off if he gets approval from Congress.”

The Obama administration is reportedly considering limited military action against Syrian government targets as early as this week in response to reports that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons on large scale last week on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. The attack reportedly killed more than 1,000 people, including women and children.

A handful of House members have signed a letter saying Obama should call Congress back into session. “[E]ngaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United State exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” states the letter, which was drafted by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA). Twenty-seven Republicans and 6 Democrats signed on to the letter.

But while British Prime Minster David Cameron has called Parliament back into session for debate on Syria, there’s no indication at this point that either the Senate nor the House will come back early from August recess. As this blog noted on Tuesday, the War Powers Resolution — which every administration since Nixon has deemed unconstitutional — requires the President to notify Congress whenever he or she plans to order American forces in areas where “imminent’ hostilities are likely (Obama has reportedly done this). The executive, in turn, has 60 days to conduct such operations, and a 30-day subsequent withdrawal period, without Congressional approval.

While Corker said he wants more Congressional involvement, he also said he would support a military response in Syria. “The leader of our country has announced, whether you like it or not or whether you supported him or not, that if a red line was crossed, action would be taken. I think in this case, they think there’s no question whatsoever that this action has been taken,” he said.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration “is planning to release evidence, possibly as soon as Thursday, that it will say proves that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bears responsibility for what U.S. officials have called an ‘undeniable’ chemical attack that killed hundreds on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.”