WASHINGTON (AP) – The debate is on as congressional lawmakers begin considering President Barack Obama’s request that they authorize a military strike on Syria to punish the Assad regime for an alleged chemical attack on its own people.
Leaders in Congress planned for a vote on the authorization soon after lawmakers return from their summer recess on Sept. 9. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled a hearing on Obama’s request for Tuesday, and classified and unclassified briefings for senators were being planned ahead of the vote as well.
Opposing views began to emerge within hours of the president’s address Saturday in the White House Rose Garden. While some lawmakers said they would need more information and discussion about the consequences of attacking Syria, others appeared to have already taken positions.
Arguing for a strategy that seeks to end Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement saying that any operation should be broader than the “limited” scope Obama has described.
“We cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the president’s stated goal of Assad’s removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests,” the senators said.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a member of the House’s intelligence committee, suggested that Obama was undermining the authorities of future presidents and seeking a political shield for himself by going through Congress.
“The president doesn’t need 535 members of Congress to enforce his own red line,” King said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he doesn’t believe Syria should go unpunished for the Aug. 21 attack near Damascus. “But we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is,” he said by telephone. “What the president may perceive as limited … won’t stop there.”
“The potential for escalation in this situation is so great that I think it’s essential that the president not be out there on his own,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. He added, however, that constituents have asked him why what happened in Syria should matter to them.
“The president has to convince us,” Thornberry said.
After telling the nation that he had decided not to act on his own authority, Obama delivered draft legislation to the House and Senate seeking the use of U.S. armed forces against Syria “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate.”
The draft also stated that “unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.”
Lawmakers of both parties had, for days, demanded that Obama seek congressional authorization under the War Powers Act. Until Saturday, the president showed no willingness to do so and the military strike appeared imminent.
There’s little doubt that Obama as commander in chief could retaliate against Syrian targets without approval from the American people or their representatives in Congress. He did it two years ago in Libya, but in that case, the U.S. led a NATO coalition.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food