Defense

Bipartisan group calls on Biden to clarify reasoning for Syria airstrikes

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
Greg Nash

Two members from opposite sides of the political spectrum called on President Biden Monday to clarify the specific threats that led to airstrikes conducted against targets in Iraq and Syria last month.

Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) penned a letter together saying the airstrikes “raise major constitutional concerns.” 

“Our Constitution gives the authority to declare war only to Congress. It is implied that the President has limited authority to act to defend our national interests in exigent circumstances. The Executive Branch has no authority conducting offensive strikes without Congressional approval,” said Biggs, who co-chairs the War Powers Caucus along with California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna. 

Biggs, Khanna, Lee and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) founded the War Powers Caucus in 2019, finding commonalities in an issue that unites the Republican right and the Democratic left.

“The Biden Administration has taken offensive action in the recent airstrike on the Iraq-Syria border without bringing this to Congress for approval. Without appropriate justification of an imminent threat to the United States, it is clear that President Biden exceeded his constitutional authority,” added Biggs. 

On June 27, the Pentagon announced it had carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, targeting operational and weapons storage facilities connected to Iranian militias in the region.

It was the second such airstrike under Biden’s command, after similar attacks on militia targets in eastern Syria in February. 

In their letter, Biggs and Lee questioned Biden’s justification of imminent danger to U.S. citizens, comparing Biden’s reasoning to former President Trump’s decision to target Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

“When President Trump conducted the airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani in January [2020], you said that his administration’s assertion that the strike was conducted in self-defense was not adequate because his administration did not supply ‘the necessary evidence to support that conclusion,’ ” wrote the lawmakers. 

“Your administration’s claim that this recent action was done to defend our troops likewise must be accompanied by evidence necessary to support the conclusion that our troops were in danger in this instance,” they added.

The lawmakers asked the administration to provide a written response or classified briefing by Aug. 1, laying out details of what prompted the June airstrikes, and Biden’s own interpretation of constitutional war powers.

Tags Barbara Lee Donald Trump Joe Biden Ken Buck Ro Khanna
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