Congress To Obama: Striking Syria Is Not Your Call


A Republican-led group of Congressmen from both political parties sent President Barack Obama a strong message about his Constitutional role Thursday, delivering a letter advising him there’s a Constitution that explicitly demarcates the boundaries separating Congress’ war powers and the President’s power to enact what Congress approves.

The letter, authored by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and delivered late Wednesday, had the support of 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Here’s the full text of the letter, with a Hat Tip to political website Roll Call for transcribing it:

Dear Mr. President,

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.

Although most of the names undersigning the letter aren’t those of Congressional power players, they do reveal it isn’t only Republicans who are wary of the President’s Constitutional overreach. And the more bipartisan this pre-emptive caution against the President’s abuse of the separation of powers, the better. A true two-party stand against executive end-runs past Congress should quiet the inevitable chorus of hawks who will defend any war measure Obama takes by pointing backwards to George W. Bush’s equally unConstitutional Iraq experiment.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Harold Olsen

    Congress To Obama: Striking Syria Is Not Your Call

    Isn’t it? Because of their lack of courage, they long ago sent Obama the message that he is free to say, do and act as he pleases. They have made themselves irrelevant. If he chooses to invade another country, he is free to do so. They have made it clear that they will do nothing to stop him. Any threat of impeachment for his actions is nothing but an empty threat. They just don’t give a damn.

    • Warrior

      I wonder if that letter will make it way into the new “presidential library”?

      • KingKong

        It is no doubt in the circular file already.

      • Robert Messmer

        I wouldn’t put it pass Obama to have it framed and labeled as Congress and Empty Threat.

  • peter

    Anyone who believes that this ‘god’ imposter gives a damn about the law, the Constitution or what congress says, needs to rethink their opinion of this individual as a sane person. Power and too much of it can lead to insanity. Obama long ago passed that point. Most lunatics see themselves as untouchable. Can Obama, Hillary or the new SOS be considered anything less than devious and untrustworthy?

    • guest

      He came in that way. Its Sharia! He was elected for being black, and turns out to be a muslim.

  • Jim Read

    The truly sad part is they are telling Obama he is trying to act unConstitutionally when they themselves fail to carry out their own Constitutionally required actions. That is Washington Politics plain and simple, what we need is a million or so Veterans and Patriots to join me in a march into Washington to put the Constitution back as the Law of the Land.

    • Debbie Hogan Tate

      What day? Where? Time? We need to be more like Egypt and remove him!!

    • Robert Messmer

      Thought there was to be a March on the 11th. A Million (Moderate) Muslims demanding their rights? And even a counter-march, well ride anyway, involving 2 million bikers from around the country?

  • WiSe GuY

    Impeach this idiot before he makes himself king!

  • Stephen Gore

    So Harold, what is it going to take then. An American Civil war? It is way past time that Americans hold those who we elect responsible. We can do this at the voting poles, but it will take every legal American to vote. AS we can already see, this president and his primary hench man (HOlder) will do everything they can to allow non citizens the ability to vote and will bribe them to vote the way they want. Even that however, will not be enough if every elligable citizen votes.
    Other than that, then the guy who wants 1 million veterans and patriots to march on DC may have to happen, and that won’t be pretty.

    • Howetexas

      Stephen I have been saying for a while that it is time to march on Washington but there are no leaders to guide the march. Peaceful march with lots of people is what we need.

  • KingKong

    Article 2 Section 2 the man in the white house can only become commander in Chief AFTER CONGRESS DECLARES WAR.
    The guy in the WHITE HOUSE cannot order miIitary force anywhere!!!
    Someone please read the constitution!

    • Robert Messmer

      The President is always the Commander in Chief because the Constitution authorizes a Standing Navy. There was not supposed to be a standing Army however. Constitution authorized the raising of Armies from time to time as needed and funding could only be done for a max of two years.

  • Freespirit

    What happened to give congress a PAIR??? Are they finally realizing the PEOPLE are its masters, NOT the President and criminal accomplices

  • me

    I saw Ron Paul in Topeka last year. In his speech the people should decide if we go to war Before congress or the president decides. I agree with him a hundred percent. this congress and the president are now called leaders. In his speech the people were brought up probly a dozen times. Boy, haven’t things changed since the founders made the constitution. Our leaders were originally supposed to be servants of the people, elected by the people, enacting the bidings of the people. Nowadays the ones we elect look down on us like royalty who decides what we can have and can do.

  • terri

    Congress authorize never approve Obama for war in Syria. Should U.S. military force find out who badly person, then arrest gov of Syria!! If they won’t listen law of U.S. Constitution, then evils of people & govern go in hell, U.S. military can prevent & defeat them in Syria. War stop not over again!!

    • Nunyo Business

      WTF did you just say?

  • Debbie Hogan Tate

    Call all you reps now and tell them “NO to getting involved in Syria”! All of them! Let them have tons of messages against going into Syria when they come back in session!

  • JLouisK


  • Gobo

    Quick and easy way to send your thoughts to Congress — PopVox.

  • Friederich Greenwood

    Fortunately, B.O is a reflection on his family and the company he keeps. He is not an accurate representative of Americans. As long as he is removed from office, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We didn’t vote for him.
    He doesn’t have the decency to resign…B.C. also lacked the sense to resign. Even Nixon showed better dignity and his crime was minuscule by comparison! Sometimes, our Congress must impeach and our Senate must vote them out of office permanently. This is one of those times.