More than 100 lawmakers, including 21 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 140 lawmakers had signed the letter as of Thursday, highlighting bipartisan interest and growing momentum in ensuring a role for Congress in any decision to use force in Syria. The letter has yet to be sent to the White House.
“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 RigellScott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE (R-Va.).
The Democrats who have signed the letter so far are Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Rush Holt (N.J.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), William Enyart (Ill.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Sam FarrSam FarrDEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion 19 House Democrats' sites hacked at close of gun sit-in Dems push for allowing base closures MORE (Calif.), Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyTrump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship Trump's VP list shrinks MORE, (Iowa), Jim McDermottJim McDermottDem lawmaker: Israel's accusations start of 'war on the American government' Dem to Trump on House floor: ‘Stop tweeting’ A record number of Indian Americans have been elected to Congress MORE (Wash.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDemocrats raise questions about Trump’s mental health Dem launches panel to review presidential removal procedures 40 House Dems to urge Trump to suspend Flynn MORE (Ore.), Peter WelchPeter WelchGot soy milk? Don't let Congress, dairy industry bogart 'milk' label Dems on Flynn: 'This is just the beginning' Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief working to exempt Iraqis from Trump order MORE (Vt.), Rick Nolan (Minn.), David Loebsack (Iowa), Jim MathesonJim MathesonNew president, new Congress, new opportunity First black GOP woman in Congress wins reelection Lobbying world MORE (Utah), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), Daniel Lipinski, (Ill.) and Dan Maffei (N.Y.).
Current Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) is among the Republicans who 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 BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio).
—This story was first posted at 10:25 a.m. on Aug. 28 and last updated at 3:01 p.m. on Aug. 29.