August 27, 2013
At least 22 members of the House of Representatives have signed a petition pleading president Obama to honor the Constitution, in addition to the War Powers Resolution, and seek congressional approval before launching a military offensive on Syria.
Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell penned the letter which asks Obama to reconvene Congress if he deems “that military action in Syria is necessary” so they can collectively “consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.”
The petition states Obama committed a constitutional infraction when he authorized “221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire” without congressional approval against Libya in 2011.
“We view the precedent this opinion sets, where ‘ national interest’ is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional,” Rigell’s petition notes.
“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization,” Rigell says, “would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”
Below is the full letter, via the Washington Post, and the names of those who signed as of 1:35PM today:
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.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)
Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02)
Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-5)
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)
Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04)
Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10)
Rep. Dan Benishek, M.D (MI-01)
Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17)
Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Rep. Tim Griffin (AR-2)
Rep Justin Amash (MI-03)
Rep. Raul Labrabor (ID-01)
Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA-16)
Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-8)
Rep. John Campbell (CA-45)
Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)
Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02)
Rep. Charles Boustany (LA-03)
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04)
“The letter will be sent Wednesday at noon,” reports Politico.