Lawmakers Want Trump to Seek Congress Approval for Any Use of Force in Mideast

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A satellite image from April 7, 2017, shows damage on the Shayrat air base in Syria following the U.S. Tomahawk missile strikes.
A satellite image from April 7, 2017, shows damage on the Shayrat air base in Syria following the U.S. Tomahawk missile strikes.Credit: DigitalGlobe/AP

WASHINGTON - Six Republican lawmakers joined 40 of their Democrat colleagues on Friday by calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to bring a resolution before the U.S. Congress that would define and authorize the use of force in Syria and other “terrorist hotspots” in the Middle East. The bipartisan plea comes three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered an attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for the first time since the start of the Syrian civil war.

In their letter to Ryan, the 46 Representatives wrote that the president “must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.” The letter added, “We believe that Congress has an important role to play, and based on current events, such a debate should occur as soon as possible.” The Republicans who signed the letter are Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Ted Yoho of Florida and Justin Amash of Michigan.

On the side of the Democrats, the letter was spearheaded by Reps. James McGovern of Massachusetts and Barbara Lee of California. Among those who signed it were Reps. Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, two Jewish Democrats from New York who are active on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East. The letter states that “Congress cannot continue to remain silent and ignore its responsibilities under the constitution,” and that a debate on further war steps in the Middle East “is the minimum we owe the American people and our brave men and women in uniform.”

Past attempts to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force that would suit the current developments in the Middle East ended in failure because of deep divisions in Washington. It is unlikely that the current effort will go much further, although following the Syria strike last month, Speaker Ryan signaled that he was open to debating the subject.

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