Congress was quite vocal in the last week about their desire to be consulted over matters regarding a potential military strike in Syria. The surprise decision yesterday by President Obama that he would seek congressional approval conflicts strongly with the previous statements by the Obama Administration, but is there a political reason for his statement?
It seems that strong factions of both parties agree that going to war with Syria should be discussed with the people's elected representatives and thankfully, President Obama finally agreed to allow debate on the matter.
During his speech yesterday, President Obama said in part,
"...And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives..."
Many have argued that a limited military strike as described by the Obama administration would only embolden the Assad regime, and many additionally express frustration about the questionable goals of the strike itself. Due to the valid concerns, debate is necessary. Also, as reported by Mark Murray of NBC News,
"Nearly 80 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria..."
The decision to seek approval was correct, but after headlines from yesterday that indicate (wrongly) that the nation's representatives are not willing to return to have an emergency session to discuss the matter, it is not a stretch to think that President Obama is playing political chess.
Susan Davis and Paul Singer of USA Today reported yesterday,
"President Obama heeded the call of members...who were demanding a vote on military action on Syria, but Congress will not rush back to Washington to take that vote." [added emphasis]
Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times writes,
"President Obama put the Syria decision in Congress's hands Saturday, but lawmakers Â— who had begged for a voice in the decision Â— seemed in no rush to return to Washington to make it." [added emphasis]
The reporting is simply inaccurate. In fact, a letter written to the President by Rep. Scott Rigell clearly stated in part,
"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." [added emphasis]
The inaccurate reporting was based on comments by GOP Speaker John Boehner, who "announced the House will hold a vote the week of September 9," when the House returns from summer break.
Holding off on making a decision was clearly initiated by President Obama, as he clearly stated,
"Over the last several days, we've heard from members...who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session." [added emphasis]
The interesting part of this is that now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who supports military action in Syria, reportedly is considering calling his members back for an early session.
Just reported w @wolfblitzer senator Reid is considering bringing senate back before sept 9.Â— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) August 31, 2013
Clearly, this would make the House of Representatives look like they are not as engaged in doing the work of the people. Hopefully, President Obama was sincere when he called for congressional authorization, because as he said, "the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective."
Perhaps in light of uncovered statements by all of the key players in the Democrat Party, President Obama recognized that the move would be completely hypocritical.
In 2007, ABC News reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said,
"The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization."
As reported by the Associated Press, Nancy Pelosi said,
"President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without specific [congressional] approval..."
Watch then-Senator Joe Biden threaten to impeach President George W. Bush if he sought to attack Iran without congressional authorization in 2007:
Image Source: Charles Dharapak/AP via NY DailyNews