By Jonathan Easley - 03/13/12 01:39 AM EDT
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced a resolution last week that would make it an impeachable offense for the president to seek international approval for a military strike, rather than the approval of Congress.
The resolution is in response to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s testimony last week, in which he said he would seek “international permission” before initiating a no-fly zone in Syria, similar to the NATO-approved actions taken last summer in Libya.
Last June, Jones was one member in a bipartisan group of lawmakers to file a lawsuit against the president, claiming the administration illegally circumvented Congress in authorizing military action in Libya.
The White House argued that the military action was not a violation of the War Powers Act, because the U.S. military was not involved in the kind of full-blown “hostilities” that pertain to the act.
Jones was not convinced by the State Department’s legal argument.
“This action would clearly be a violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution,” he continued. “I recently took President Obama to court over this issue, as I did earlier with President Clinton. Enough is enough. It is time this country upholds the Constitution and the principles upon which this country was founded.”
Jones’s resolution states that “it is Congress’s exclusive power to declare war,” and that “except in response to an actual or imminent attack” against the United States, any military offensive not approved by Congress “constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.”
Congress has been grappling with how to deal with the increasingly combustible situation in Syria, where thousands have died as the regime of Bashar al-Assad fights to stay in power.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is urging Congress to act by arming local militias.
But last Friday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the senator involved in the controversial exchange with Panetta, called on Obama to denounce his secretary of Defense and commit to going through Congress before taking any action.
“We are witnessing a potential sea change in the American system with enormous long-term consequences for both foreign and domestic policy,” Sessions said in a statement. “So far, the Administration has failed to retract its repeated remarks from the Armed Services hearing. It is now urgent that these comments be publicly, vocally, and forcefully disavowed in the most unambiguous fashion possible.”