Blumenthal to Obama: Don't ignore Congress

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday said President Obama must present specific proposals to Congress on how the U.S. might respond to the unfolding violence in Iraq.

“I urge the president to come to the Congress with specific proposals and recommendations,” Blumenthal said on MSNBC’s “NewsNation.”

Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he couldn’t consider any military action until Iraq’s leaders make an effort in bringing together the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations. 

“Before considering any military options, there has to be a national unity government in Iraq that reconciles the sectarian factions,” he said. “This government in Iraq has been anything but inclusive and effective.” 

That “failure in governance” is why crisis developed, Blumenthal said.

The Democrat said he hopes there will be “bipartisan consensus” in how to move forward.

“Military force alone is not going to be the solution,” he explained, adding that he opposes troops on the ground or any prolonged or extensive U.S. military engagement. 

Last Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney dodged questions about whether Obama would need to seek congressional approval if he chooses to launch air strikes against the Sunni militants in Iraq.

“We would have to get back to you on how that would proceed if that decision were made," he told reporters.

After Obama announced a possible military strike on Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria last fall, he at first suggested he could do it unilaterally, and then decided he would consult Congress. Russia intervened, however, and ushered a diplomatic deal through that eliminated the U.S. threat.

Obama might have the legal authority to launch a strike in Iraq since the original use of force authorization that green lighted the 2003 U.S. invasion there is still in effect. The administration has previously said it would support a repeal of that legislation.

On Friday, Obama said he was still considering all options except boots on the ground in Iraq.