Citizens should join Oregon members of Congress in encouraging President Barack Obama to receive authorization from U.S. representatives before ordering the use of any American military force in Syria.

Use of chemical weapons by any country against its own civilians is morally reprehensible. But in the case of Syria, the president does not have the authority to act without first consulting Congress. Under the War Powers Resolution, Obama can enter into hostilities without approval from Congress only in cases where U.S. citizens and troops are under attack.

The U.S. should instead engage the international community on effective responses through the United Nations Security Council, and Congress must assess any recommendations made by the U.N.

Oregon U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer joined more than 100 of members of Congress last week in signing a bipartisan letter to Obama strongly urging him to consult with and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.

“While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate — and the active engagement of Congress — prior to committing U.S. military assets,” they wrote to Obama. “If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.”

“Any commitment made by President Obama to use U.S. military force against the Syrian government first requires congressional authorization,” Schrader added. “Respectfully, it is the constitutional power of Congress, not the president, to approve military action in situations when we have not been attacked or threatened with an attack. After more than a decade of war and billions of dollars spent, the United States can no longer afford to be the world’s police. I urge the president and my colleagues in Congress to continue to work with the international community to end the violence in Syria, but direct U.S. military involvement at this time is one of the worst of many bad options.”

“Under the U.S. constitution, the solemn war-making powers were granted to the Legislative Branch, not the Executive,” DeFazio said. “If the president intends to engage U.S. forces, he has an obligation to recall Congress and ask for such authority. In asking for this authorization, he would be required to propose the scope, duration and objective of the U.S. forces in this conflict.”

“The use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria is appalling and outrageous,” Blumenauer said. “However, rather than rushing into an amazingly complicated and treacherous arena, Congress and the American people should have the opportunity to consider our actions and be mindful of the consequences.”

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