Notes: The article below was written two days ago. Since that time many more have signed on urging Congressional involvement in the decision to use military force in Syria. Now the total number for two letters is at least 163 Members. The article below focuses on a letter drafted by Rep. Scott Rigel (R-VA). This letter had 140 signatures, 119 Republicans and 21 Dems . You can read the letter here.
Rep. Barbara Lee also circulated a letter that calls on the president to seek congressional approval. Fifty-three members, all Democrats, signed the letter. You can read the letter written by Barbara Lee with 53 signers here.
And in the UK the Labor Party has insisted on voting on this but will not do so until after the UN investigation and Security Council decision. On Thursday, David Cameron lost a preliminary vote in the Parliament on military intervention into Syria.
More than 100 lawmakers, including 16 Democrats, have signed a letter that says President Obama would violate the Constitution by striking Syria without first getting authorization from Congress. A total of 107 lawmakers had signed the letter as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, highlighting bipartisan interest and growing momentum in ensuring a role for Congress in any decision to use force in Syria.
“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,” states the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.).
Rigell has extended his deadline for signatories until this evening to give more members of Congress a chance to add their names. He intends to deliver the letter to the White House on Thursday. The Democrats who have signed the letter so far are Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Rush Holt (N.J.), Gene Green (Texas), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), William Enyart (Ill.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Bruce Braley, (Iowa), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Peter Welch (Vt.) and Rick Nolan (Minn.) Current Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul has signed onto Rigell’s effort.
However, his predecessor, former Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King, R-N.Y. has repeatedly said on TV news programs that Obama does not need authorization from Congress to move forward.
Rigell has called on Obama to bring Congress back to Washington early to consider the authorization of military force against Syria. “If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your convenience,” the letter states. The congressman also wrote that the president’s decision to authorize the 2011 U.S. military in Libya without Congress’s green light was unconstitutional. News reports suggest U.S. strikes on Syria could begin as early as Thursday.
Congress is not set to return to Washington until Sept. 9. The administration has reached out to discuss its thinking with lawmakers on several committees, as well as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).