Idaho’s Labrador: Don’t wait until next week to debate Syria, bring back Congress now

Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador doesn’t want to wait until next week for Congress to consider authorizing military action against Syria.

Labrador is urging House Speaker John Boehner to call the House back to Washington this week, saying taking the matter up when Congress is scheduled to return on Sept. 9 will short-change the debate.

“If the Speaker waits until September 9, the war debate will compress the already limited time that Congress has to deal with other issues, from the budget to the debt ceiling to immigration,” Labrador said in a news release issued late Saturday afternoon. “The debate over Syria is too important to be delayed or compressed by other issues.  We owe it to the American people to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution, and to do so in a timely way that respects the democratic process.”

Boehner said Tuesday that he will support President Obama’s call for a military strike, and urged colleagues to join him. “I’m going to support the president’s call for action; I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action.”

Boehner spoke after a meeting with Obama at the White House with congressional leaders.

Labrador commended Obama for his decision Saturday to seek congressional approval for the use of force. Last week, Labrador joined Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson and more than 100 other House members of both parties in a letter calling for just such a debate.

Labrador’s news release, which I didn’t see until this afternoon because of the Labor Day holiday, follows:

 

LABRADOR CALLS ON SPEAKER TO

CALL HOUSE INTO SPECIAL SESSION

next week TO DEBATE

AUTHORIZATION OF USE OF FORCE

AGAINST SYRIA


“CONGRESS MUST HAVE STRONG AND OPEN

DEBATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE & PRESIDENT

MUST RESPECT OUTCOME OF THAT DEBATE”

 

EAGLE, ID – Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) called on Speaker Boehner today to call the House into special session next week in order to debate a Congressional authorization of the use of force against Syria.  Earlier today, President Obama said for the first time that he would seek Congressional authorization for the use of force against Syria and that the United States “should” take action against that country.   Congress is currently scheduled to reconvene on September 9.

“I commend President Obama for his decision to seek Congressional authorization for the use of force against Syria,” said Rep. Labrador.  “The Constitution is quite clear that the President cannot commit our nation to war (absent an attack upon the United States) without the approval of Congress.  The Speaker should call the House into special session early next week to debate authorizing the use of force against Syria.  If the Speaker waits until September 9, the war debate will compress the already limited time that Congress has to deal with other issues, from the budget to the debt ceiling to immigration.   The debate over Syria is too important to be delayed or compressed by other issues.  We owe it to the American people to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution, and to do so in a timely way that respects the democratic process.”

This week, Rep. Labrador and 139 other House members sent a letter to President Obama, stating that we “strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria” and reminding the President that “engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

“The Speaker must protect Congress’ most basic and most important responsibility – the power to declare war,” said Rep. Labrador today.  “Since the enactment of the War Powers Resolution in 1973, Congress has continued to delegate its constitutional prerogative to authorize the use of force overseas to the executive branch.  This trend must be reversed.  The House must return next week and assert the primacy of the legislative branch by immediately engaging in a deliberate and thorough debate about the President’s case for the use of force in Syria.  After the vote, President Obama must respect the will of the duly elected representatives of the American people.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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