Pelosi: Ryan must reconvene House to debate Syria strikes

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday called on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to bring House lawmakers back to Washington in light of the United States’ airstrikes against Syria.

The lower chamber recessed Thursday for an 18-day spring break, but Pelosi says that’s too long to avoid debate over “any decision to place our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

“The President’s action and any response demands that we immediately do our duty,” Pelosi wrote to Ryan. 

“Congress must live up to its Constitutional responsibility to debate an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against a sovereign nation.”  

Pelosi has long advocated for Congress to pass a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in light of the ongoing U.S. military actions in Syria and other Middle Eastern hotspots. 

{mosads}Former President Obama had introduced such a resolution more than two years ago, designed to set the terms of the administration’s fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rejected the proposal as too restrictive.  

GOP leaders maintained it was up to the Pentagon to rework the proposal and send it back to Congress. Obama, Pelosi and the Democrats argued otherwise, saying it was the responsibility of the GOP-led Congress to offer its own alternative — a proposal that never materialized under either Boehner or Ryan. 

Ryan’s office said they have no update to the House’s schedule. The chamber is scheduled to be in recess until April 24.

Pelosi has often condemned the tactics of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s ongoing civil war, and she’s amplified those criticisms in recent days, joining the wave of international criticism that’s followed a chemical attack this week in rebel-held Idlib Province, which U.S. officials say was carried out by the Syrian government, that killed dozens of civilians and sickened hundreds more.

“Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on his own people places him outside the circle of civilized human behavior,” Pelosi wrote to Ryan.

She’s also warning of the likelihood of further strikes.

“As heartbreaking as Assad’s chemical weapons attacks on his own people was, the crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes,” she wrote. 

“The killing will not stop without a comprehensive political solution to end the violence. The American people are owed a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives to keep our brave men and women in uniform safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians in Syria.” 

On Thursday night, Pelosi offered her support for President Trump’s decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian airfield where the chemical attacks were said to have originated, saying the strike, which killed at least seven, “appears to be a proportional response to the the regime’s use of chemical weapons.”

But any escalation of attacks by the U.S., she quickly added, “must” be accompanied by congressional approval — a message she reiterated in her letter to Ryan. 

The letter arrives as a growing number of lawmakers representing both parties and both chambers are urging Trump to come to Congress for approval of further military operations against Assad.

“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted Thursday night. “The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.”

Updated at 10:13 a.m.

Tags Boehner John Boehner Paul Ryan Rand Paul

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