A day after President Barack Obama’s White House address that did not rule out the prospect of a U.S. military strike against the Syrian government, a Senate resolution to authorize action sits tabled. But that isn’t stopping a handful of lawmakers to advocate for an attack— with or without Congressional approval.
“Congress stands ready to return to that Syria resolution to give the president the authority to hold the Assad regime accountable for the pain, suffering and death that he caused with those chemical weapons,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday as lawmakers moved to other business.
Reid said he would revive the war resolution as soon as it becomes clear that a diplomatic solution is unreachable. He also used 9/11 as a reason to fight alongside al-Qaida insurgents in Syria.
“Today we bow our heads in solemn remembrance of a devastating time in our Nation’s history,” Reid said. “Even as we pay tribute to America’s tradition of freedom for every citizen, across the globe an evil dictator denies his citizens not only their right to liberty but also their right to live.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), in an interview following the Syria speech, said the President should act unilaterally to initiate war with Syria if diplomacy fails.
“You know, there’s probably a reason 225 times Presidents didn’t come to Congress. I don’t know if I’d come to talk with us. Quite frankly,” he said. “The President has mismanaged this from day one about what we’re trying to do, the goals we’re trying to achieve. I think he made an unbelievably compelling case that we need to act here and compare that to the unbelievably small response we’re going to give.
“So at the end of the day, if I were the President I would act after this speech if diplomacy fell apart and I wouldn’t come back to Congress.”
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) also joined the “screw Congress, let’s bomb” peanut gallery because, he said, the White House’s credibility is on the line.
“There are times when the President of the United States has to act in the national interest and that clashes with my view we are a Nation of laws, governed by the Constitution and the separation of powers,” he told reporters.
“I do believe there are times, particularly prior to World War II, we have the example of Franklin Roosevelt taking actions that Congress would never have approved … Abraham Lincoln acted unilaterally in the Civil War,” he added.
McCain also said if the President acted without Congress to start an illegal war it would be “crazy” for any lawmaker to attempt to impeach him— because, of course, attacking Syria is a matter of “vital national interest.”