Congress OK with bypassing itself to begin bombing the Islamic State
Just for the sake of a constitutional discussion, here is a topic ripe for the picking. Much was made that President Bush never formally declared war on radical Islam, al-Qaeda, the Taliban or any formal enemy. There was an authorization for a use of force in Afghanistan, and eventually Iraq, but not a formal Declaration of War.
At this time, President Obama is weighing air strikes against ISIS (or ISIL) in Iraq and potentially in Syria. Many have called for the need to have Congress debate such authorization but now some Representatives are saying they’re fine with the President going in without explicit Congressional approval.
Transcript of remarks from Representiave Peter King (R-NY) over the weekend:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman King we’re going to hear the president’s new strategy on Wednesday. He’s also seeming to suggest this morning that he has all the authority he needs now to take action even against Syria.
Do you agree with that? Or do you think he should come to Congress?
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): As a Republican, I do believe the president has the constitutional authority to take action now in Iraq and in Syria against ISIS. I believe as a matter of course, it’s probably better for him to get Congressional approval, but I — which I would certainly vote for. But I don’t believe he needs it. [Emphasis added] And if that’s going to delay what he wants to do, he should go ahead and just take action without waiting for Congress. This is too important to get this bogged down in a Congressional debate if the president does not believe the support is there.
If it is there, ideally he should get it. But I believe as commander-in-chief he is the absolute power to carry out these attacks.
It would be “better” if the President had approval but he doesn’t “need” it, according to King. That’s a pretty unclear answer when it comes to whether anyone is concerned with constitutional separation of powers and what power the President (any president) holds to commit US forces with or without congressional oversight and approval.
Even further, King says that the President should not even bother seeking Congressional approval if the President thinks Congress might not approve it. In that case, why bother having a Congress to represent anyone if Peter King wishes to override the rest of the House of Representatives and grant his personal authority to the President?