Washington – Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said President Obama does not have the authority to wage a military operation in Syria against Islamic militants known as ISIS — the group that beheaded an American journalist and is trying to destabilize the Iraqi government.
“I support the administration’s initial efforts to protect our personnel and to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people,” Murphy said in a statement Wednesday. “But the president’s authority under Article II of the Constitution is not limitless. I also appreciate the fact that President Obama recognizes the constitutional role of Congress in foreign policy, demonstrated most recently by his call last summer for congressional authorization of military action in Syria.”
Congress failed to give its support for military actions in Syria, however, and the administration resorted to diplomatic efforts to press Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.
Obama authorized surveillance flights over Syria this week and is considering other actions. One problem is that a strike against ISIS would help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a U.S. foe.
Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Obama needed congressional authority “to fight a long term war against ISIS.”
“In evaluating our options in taking on ISIS, we need to be clear eyed about the scope of the effort required to eliminate the threat they pose,” Murphy said. “A broader fight against ISIS will likely require a sustained, long term military campaign across the Middle East region. Without defined objectives and means, the United States could end up marching down another slippery slope of war, entangling us in a bloody sectarian conflict without end.”
On Tuesday, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, called on members of Congress to end their summer recess and return to Washington to debate administration actions regarding Syria.