President Donald Trump has canceled his previously scheduled trip to South America “to oversee the American response to Syria,” while some Republicans demand Trump seek congressional authorization before launching any military operation.
President Trump “will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as originally scheduled,” according to a statement released by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Vice President Mike Pence has been tapped to take President Trump’s place on the trip.
According to the statement, President Trump will remain in Washington, DC in order to “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”
A military response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma appears increasingly likely as American military assets are moved into position around Syria.
The USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, is reportedly holding position off the Syrian coast after being harassed by low-flying Russian aircraft.
The USS Laboon, another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, is also close to Syria as is the USS Georgia, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.
In response to the American military build-up and increasingly likely prospect of an impending military operation, Russia has begun jamming American drones operating over Syria
Meanwhile, several Republicans in Congress have called on President Trump to seek congressional authorization prior to launching a military strike on the Syrian government.
Libertarian-leaning Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky argued President Trump is constitutionally prohibited from launching a military operation in Syria without authorization from Congress.
“There is No congressional authorization to strike the government of Syria,” Massie tweeted, arguing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11 does not grant President Trump the power to strike Syria.
“The President has no Constitutional authority to make war without Congress… this includes strikes against Syria.”
There is No congressional authorization to strike the government of Syria. #Constitution
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 8, 2018
Utah Senator Mike Lee echoed Massie’s suggestion in a tweet of his own, claiming “the use of chemical weapons absolutely requires a response from the United States. But if that response is going to include military force, the president of the United States should come to Congress and ask for authorization before military force is used.”
The use of chemical weapons absolutely requires a response from the United States. But if that response is going to include military force, the President of the United States should come to Congress and ask for authorization before military force is used.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) April 9, 2018