A growing number of lawmakers in Capitol Hill are requesting that President Obama to seek their approval vote before any military intervention is undertaken in Syria, after claims that the country might have used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war in the country. Scot Rigell, in a letter that was sent to President Obama and signed by eight Democrats and forty seven Republicans, wrote that engaging the United States military in Syria when there did not exist any direct threat to the US and without prior authorization from the congress would lead to violation of separation of powers, which is clearly outlined in the constitution.
The letter states that the congress is ready to resume to session, think about the facts before them and share in the burden of the decisions that will be made with regards to the United States involvement in the Syrian conflict which has been quickly escalating. Congress is currently on a summer break and it is set to resume on 9th of September. In the past, the White House has argued that the president has the official authority to order for a military attack when it is believed to be of the essence to the interests of national security. The White House has said that officials are in consultations with the members of the congress but they have not indicated as to whether or not president Obama will seek a formal authorization from the congress.
As a senator and a candidate for presidency in 2007 election campaigns, president Obama, in an interview with The Boston Globe, said that he believed that the president does not have the authority to authorize a military attack unilaterally unless such an action was taken in an attempt to prevent an imminent or actual threat.
Senator Bob Coker, R-Tenn., who is the ranking republican sitting on the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, also expressed his support for an authorization vote from the congress. He did so on Monday, telling the MSNBC that congress had been given a pass on all the foreign policy issues and that according to him; the debate in Washington is more or less sophomoric and stupid as they were not intending to take ownership over the decisions made. Senator Tim Kaine, D-VA., who is an ally of president Obama and a former chairman for the Democratic National Committee, said to the Richmond Times Dispatch that he supported the congressional authorization vote. He asked why then was there a need for congress, if one did not go on board on some sort of military action.
Nonetheless, it is not clear whether an approval to intervene in Syria could go through a congress that is divided, and the failure of intervention would lead to complication of the United States diplomatic efforts and foreign policy in the region. Neither House Speaker John Boehner, nor Majority Leader for senate Harry Reid, has joined in the increasing calls for the congress approval vote. Instead, the office of the Speaker issued a statement this week saying that the president should consult with the Congress before he took any military action.