Cumberland Times-News

August 29, 2013

Get consent

On Syria, president should abide by War Powers Resolution


Cumberland Times-News

— The chorus is growing — and rightfully so — for President Obama to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of military force in Syria.

Thirty-three House members — most of them Republicans — have signed a letter urging the president to call Congress back into session if he plans to use the military in response to Syria’s purported use of chemical weapons.

But this is hardly a partisan matter. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president to first acquire consent from Congress before taking military action.

“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,” the House group wrote. “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.”

In an ideal world, the United Nations would be out in front on the Syria issue. But Russia and several other members have pledged to veto anything considered by the United Nations.

We believe many Americans would like to see Congress debate what action should be taken and how a military strike would serve to stop future chemical weapons use. Unfortunately, Congress is out of session this month, so taking quick action is not likely. Then, there is the never-ending partisan split that generally paralyzes the House and Senate.

Nonetheless, the War Powers Resolution should be heeded. A president acting in consult with the Congress increases the resolve and credibility of the United States.