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Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 9:33pm
El Paso, Texas (KDBC) — Congressman Beto O'Rourke weighed in on the possibility of the U.S. using force against Syria, after chemical weapons were used to attack citizens there.
O'Rourke, on his Facebook page, outlined his points for the need for Congress to approve any strike.
Below are his comments in full.
A number of people have asked me recently about possible U.S. military engagement in Syria.
I do not support the commitment of U.S. military force in Syria without specific Congressional authorization.
Today I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in writing to President Obama to consult with and receive authorization form Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Our letter makes it clear that we stand ready to come back to Washington, consider the facts, and share the burden of making the decision.
Absent an emergency that directly threatens the security of our nation, both Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide for active engagement with Congress prior to ordering our Service Members into harm's way.
The security of the U.S. is not currently threatened by the civil war in Syria. Now is the time for a robust public debate on the wisdom of military intervention in Syria and a sober consideration of all the consequences of such an action.
This debate should take place publicly in the House and the Senate, not behind closed doors in the White House or Pentagon.
The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent in all circumstances. However, prior to supporting any military intervention, I would need clear answers to a number of questions, including: how the security of the U.S. will be impacted by the mission; how success will be defined; the expected scope and cost of the intervention; and ramifications for the region.
I believe that Congress and all Americans deserve answers to these questions and that the Constitution demands it.
the full text of our letter:
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.