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Syria Strike Creates Chance for Lawmakers to Reassert Congress’s War Powers

by Countable | 4.23.17

Since President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian military target used to carry out chemical weapons attacks on Syria two weeks ago there has been increased focus on whether Congress will provide an authorization for military operations in the wartorn country.

The Trump administration has said that its action against the Syrian base was only in response to the chemical attack — not a precursor to larger U.S. involvement — and that operations in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are allowed under a post-9/11 counterterrorism authorization. However, lawmakers in Congress are primed to reassert the legislature’s power in the war-making process.

The day before Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from U.S. Navy destroyers struck a Syrian airbase, a bipartisan pair of congressmen introduced a bill that would prohibit offensive military action in Syria without congressional authorization. Reps. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) both want Congress to give its consent before any further military operations occur in Syria, but so far a consensus on what an authorization would cover or when it'd be addressed hasn't been reached.

While it wouldn’t apply to actions taken against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one proposal in Congress would authorize the use of military force against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. Sen. Todd Young’s (R-IN) resolution not only provides an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS that some have waited more than two years for, it also repeals an AUMF for combatting the Taliban and Al Qaeda after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and another from 2002 which authorized the invasion of Iraq. Critics say those authorizations have been used to justify unending conflict since their adoption.

Congress hasn’t yet announced the legislative schedule for its returns from recess, but given that some lawmakers called for the Passover & Easter holiday break to be delayed so members could debate an authorization, the issue could soon find itself on the agenda.

Tell your reps if you think Congress should authorize additional military actions in Syria and if a new AUMF is needed to deal with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban using the "Take Action" button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps via Wikimedia / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(71)
  • Norm
    04/23/2017
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    You know folks the real message of a war powers action is to prevent war. This means thoroughly researching the problems. I would hope it also means building a community of nations to act with. You know it takes a community to raise kids, and likewise it will take a community help Syria grow. And, don't say this to loud but maybe we can use some help growing too.

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  • Martha
    04/23/2017
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    This is a great opportunity to help reestablish checks and balances.

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  • UnapologeticallyAmerican
    04/23/2017
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    The rules of war being written mostly by those who have never fought in one.

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  • Brian
    04/23/2017
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    This strike should have required some approval from congress.

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  • Ingrid
    04/23/2017
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    Congress should definitely reassert the power given to it to authorize any offensive actions in Syria and elsewhere. The President cannot and should not be the sole decision maker for involvement of the country in war. While this may make the decision take a little longer to make, if our country is sending our military into battle, the representatives of those individuals (House and Senate) need to be involved in that decision.

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  • Robert
    04/23/2017
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    It is time for congress to reassert its war powers. Many in congress ran on the promise to exercise oversight on the executive branch and the "common defense" is specified in the first sentence of the constitution. It is time.

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  • Joan
    04/24/2017
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    If you love your country you will do all you can to protect us from this President who seems intent on starting WW 3. Congress must demand that the President follow the rules.

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  • Lisa
    04/23/2017
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    No military action !

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  • Chuck
    04/23/2017
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    An AUMF is needed to protect from a reckless Trump military action. He cannot be trusted to make a rational decision

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  • Ticktock
    04/23/2017
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    The authority to commit US military assets to a war by declaring war rest with Congress but like most of their responsibilities they have steadfastly refused to exercise that responsibility when confronted. They delay, deflect and give political opinions without taking responsibility by providing a direct statement as a legislative body representing the US government. This failure on their part allows Presidents to take actions which may force the US into a conflict that could have otherwise been avoidable. For example the blank check that was given to President Bush which led us into Iraq based on false claims of WMDs. Now we are as stuck as a fox on the proverbial tar baby in Uncle Remus' Tails. Congress in order to be relevant must shoulder it's responsibility and act on the behalf of the people of the US.

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  • Beverly
    04/24/2017
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    No more war!!!

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  • Douglas
    04/23/2017
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    It's my understanding that the presidential powers include the right to take a limited military action and does not need congressional approval or United Nations approval prior to any action. Congressional approval is needed when a President declares war and that's the reason why Presidents in the past couple of decades have side stepped congressional approval or declaring war. It's always a better idea to get congressional approval and or United Nations on the same page prior to any action. At this stage I'm not convinced that the president has exhausted all diplomatic options in Syria.

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  • Nicole
    04/23/2017
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    We need to handle involvement in other countries very carefully. Remember what our involvement in Vietnam and, decades later, in the second US-initiated Iraq war led to--lots of tortured or killed POWs and ISIS, respectively. Desperate people do desperate things. And the lack of a true resolution in Korea may be the real cause of North Korea's president's nuclear activities.

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  • Chuck
    04/24/2017
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    Yes! That's your job Congress!

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  • Eileen
    04/24/2017
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    Many people have serious questions about the Syrian strikes. Fifty nine missiles at a cost of millions of dollars were used against Syria, doing almost no damage. Russia was warned, thus Syria was warned before the attack. This from a president who, multiple times, stated he would not let the American people know his next move because his enemies might use the information. The whole affair squandered tax dollars and is decidedly fishy. T cannot be trusted to make these decisions. Congress must have the call. As the Senate and House currently exist, I don't much trust them either, but there are many heads to think, rather than just the one, and I know some are working for the good of the country.

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  • Joel
    04/23/2017
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    Congress must authorize this!

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  • Tyler.Liberty
    04/23/2017
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    The Bush and Obama presidencies have brought us very far from the constitution and checks and balances. Maybe the outrage towards Trump will fix what the other 2 ruined.

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  • Vlad
    04/24/2017
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    It is imperative that Congress take back any and all "war powers" immediately. The person occupying the Oval Office cannot be trusted. As each day goes by, my trust level keeps going lower instead of higher.

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  • Jeannette
    04/23/2017
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    Laura your so misinformed that I'm embarrassed for you. You should have learned by now that President Trump has been restoring the three branches of power that your illegitimate bastard president eroded.

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  • Tyler
    04/24/2017
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    Why do I get the feeling that all the people here criticizing Trump's strike had no problem with Obama's 500+ drone strikes

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