Congress Wants to Give Input on Syria

Members of Congress urge Obama to consider their role when intervening in Syria.

"They do not need an authorization, but I do hope they will come for one,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says regarding possible military action in Syria.

"They do not need an authorization, but I do hope they will come for one,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says regarding possible military action in Syria.

By SHARE

It's certainly not a requirement for President Barack Obama to get congressional approval before he makes military moves in Syria, but that hasn't kept members of Congress from wanting to weigh in on how the administration proceeds in the war-torn country.

[READ: Obama Ponders Syria Military Action]

The Obama administration has "very little doubt" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime unleashed chemical weapons on its own people, a move that Obama warned was a "red line" and could force military intervention in the region.

Many members of Congress, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have long urged Obama to become more engaged in the region, but as intervention become more and more likely, lawmakers are also asking the president to proceed in Syria with congressional oversight.

Monday, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the ranking member of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped Obama would seek congressional permission before he acted in the region. Corker also confirmed that he was in communication with security advisers at the White House who were weighing their options for military intervention in Syria.

"They do not need an authorization, but I do hope they will come for one," Corker said Monday during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "If you look at foreign policy over the last long period of time, Congress has gotten a pass on all of these issues and the debate in Washington to me can be almost sophomoric and silly because we are not taking ownership over these decisions."

[PHOTOS: Alleged Gas Attack in Syria ]

The War Powers Resolution allows Obama to intervene in a conflict without a formal vote by Congress, but the law does require the president to get approval to stay engaged after a maximum of 90 days. Despite that, presidents have not always gone to Congress for approval after that time frame.

While Corker has taken a more lenient approach to the issue, a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives including Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., feels strongly that the Obama administration needs to get the blessing of Congress before it decides to intervene in another Middle East conflict.

The group, which also includes Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., went as far as introducing legislation in June that would bar any military aid to Syrian rebels and U.S. military intervention in the region unless Congress approved them. The bill did allow the administration to continue giving "non lethal aid" to the Syrian people.

"As I have long-maintained, the decision to engage overseas must be made with the utmost caution and with a full understanding of the dynamics. Most importantly, the American people, through their Congressional Representatives, must be part of this decision process," Gibson said in a statement about the legislation.

[DEBATE CLUB: Should the U.S. Intervene in Syria With Military Action?]

"I am extremely concerned that our country is entering into a dangerous engagement in Syria absent Congressional approval and a clear understanding of the conditions on the ground. As we saw in Libya, entering complex situations can be costly, both in terms of U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars."

Other members in Congress, however, want the Obama administration to weigh its options carefully, but understand that the decision to engage in military action may be made without getting initial congressional approval.

"We have to move and we have to move now," Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "I do agree with Senator Corker that I think Congress needs to be involved, but perhaps not initially. Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it ... and assent to it."

 

More News:

  • Hagel, U.S. Looking at Intelligence in Syria Attack
  • Obama, Russians Pressure Syria For Inspector Access
  • World Report: The ‘Red Line’ in Syria Is a Distant Memory