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February 12, 2016

Rigell Wants ‘Emergency Session’ for Syria (Updated)


(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:43 p.m. | Rep. Scott Rigell didn’t want Congress to leave for August recess in the first place — and now, before President Barack Obama authorizes any military force in Syria, he wants Congress to come back.

As the prospect of U.S. military intervention in Syria intensifies, the Virginia Republican issued a press release Monday calling on Obama to consult with Congress before any engagement in Syria.

“Congress is not a potted plant in this process, and President Obama should call us back into emergency session before authorizing the use of any military force,” Rigell’s press release said. “We stand ready to share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement.”

Later Monday, Rigell told CQ Roll Call that as the president considers military options in Syria, his actions “must include proactive consultation with Congress and explicit, definitive authorization” if he wants to take military action in the embattled country.

Calling U.S. intervention a “humanitarian objective,” Rigell said the War Powers Resolution did not apply to the situation in Syria because it did not constitute a “national emergency.” Therefore, if the president wants to intervene in Syria, “then, indeed, prior to — prior to! — not after the fact, he needs to call Congress into session.”

As outlined in the War Powers Resolution, the president can only commit U.S. troops to a foreign country under three circumstances: after a congressional declaration of war, by an existing congressional statute or resolution granting specific authorization, or in a national emergency caused by a foreign attack on the United States.

“We’re not defending America in the definition that would be covered under one of the three provisions,” Rigell said.

But Rigell, who didn’t want Congress to leave for August in the first place so that the House could work on appropriations bills, stopped short of saying Congress should come back to discuss Syria regardless of whether the president intends to act.

“The pivot point for me here is if the president, in his wisdom and judgment, if he says we want to move forward, then he should pull us back,” said Rigell, who also criticized Obama’s intervention in Libya without a vote of Congress.

“I don’t care whether people are on vacation, I don’t care where they are; it doesn’t matter,” Rigell said. “With the kind of involvement being contemplated here, this is a most serious matter.”

Earlier today, the office of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a blog post of its own calling on the president to consult with Congress.

But Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday afternoon that “the administration is actively consulting with members of Congress.”

  • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

    If the same centralized power is required for “fair” and “unfair” income redistribution, what determines who has such power over whom?

  • DonQuixote109

    Words are cheap. Representative Rigell should be all over his own leadership. Congress does not have to wait for the President to call them to action – they are a separate branch of the government and can meet more frequently if they choose to.

    While I would hope our nation’s leaders could come together and agree on the merits of putting down the despotic behavior, I have long come to the sad realization that many if not most in Congress just want to stomp their feet, put on a show, and decry the Executive Branch out of whichever side of their mouth is convenient.

    Surely the Conservative, Pro-Military-Industrial Complex Republicans support humanitarian aid and fighting the likes of Hitler in the 21st century, do they not?

    I’ve found it amazing how some will twist their positions to fit their warped sense of values.

    President Obama has tried to demonstrate restraint and collaborative action with the Free World – and the Right decried his temerity vs. the “come in with the six shooters out and blasting” aura of his predecessor.

    Now they are jumping up and down IN THE MEDIA to get attention like two year olds wanting to be picked for a special treat.

    Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the Way.

    Time waits for no man (one).

    • MaryEJ

      This is NOT our war.. or at least it wasn’t before Obama decided to fund and arm AL-QAEDA. We should have stayed out of it… and Egypt as well. While you want to toot Obama’s horn, he is teetering us ever so close to WW3. We should have nothing to do with either conflicts and his meddling in both affairs has brought us into the middle of both.

      He needs to LEAD OUR country and take care of OUR business How much good would 9 billion dollars have done for the USA? We have cities in bankruptcy veterans losing benefits, blacks living in war zones… hell we cant even afford to have tours of the White House, but we can send billions and billions of dollars and arms to other countries… Muslims who have attacked and killed Americans?

      President Obama has demonstrated that he does not know a thing about budgeting, foreign affairs, telling the truth, being transparent or or how to listen to the people in the USA.

      • DonQuixote109

        President Obama has been very careful in measured response and giving the other side every opportunity to change course.

        As for all of the American Budgetary woes – get your facts straight.
        It’s the “Right” side of the aisle that has been chomping at the bit to cut everything EXCEPT the DoD budget. Including Vet’s Benefits and other social support programs many of them qualify for.

        As for Cities in bankruptcy – check your constitition – separation of powers – Fed vs. State. The President was extremely unpopular with the “Right” because he supported the Auto Industry Bailout – something that in no small part tried to help a death-spiraling Detroit and surrounds.

        As to the War Zones – I won’t argue that, either. I don’t live in the inner city – I’ve tried to work hard not to fall into that cess pit. Perhaps if they had stronger family structures, instead of bang ’em and leave ’em that sadly too many have, we wouldn’t have the war zones.

        That’s not a new phenomena, though. Have you never heard of Fort Apache, The Bronx? President Obama wasn’t very old when the Race Riots of the late 60’s erupted, when RFK and MLK, jr were assassinated.

        It’s good of you to come to the party a bit late, though, so you can point all the wrongs at the President.

        Try educating yourself on the FACTS, not the Rush/Sean/Michael/FOX “news” fantasies.

  • thereasonableprogressive

    Congressman Rigell is right: congress should never have left town in August. Here’s a suggestion that might help keep our representatives at their desks. No one in congress gets paid or reimbursed for “expenses” until it completes ALL of its work including passing every appropriation bill. Isn’t this how it works for the rest of us?

    • PILover

      It might be better if a Rep. more than a two hours drive from the Capitol felt that way. Congressmen have a responsibility to their constituents as well. They need to be – and should be – in their districts too.

      • thereasonableprogressive

        In the age of social media, they need to go home for weeks on end? How many hours at home do they spend informing constituents? on fund raising? on vacations? on partying? I still think they should stay at their desks.

  • MaryEJ

    Maybe he is making this announcement about congress NOT being involved because Kerry said:

    “But Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday afternoon that “the administration is actively consulting with members of Congress.”

    This may be a way to let us all know that the admin is, again, lying to us and that this is an impeachable offence if congress is not consulted… which it clearly is not.

    • DonQuixote109

      Let us not forget some of our legal and moral obligations under treaties such as NATO and the UN that Congress did approve.

      The Republicans are simply amazing – Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, George W Bush – we have a problem and we need to bomb the hell out of them – no problem, Rah Rah, go in with guns blazing.

      But, let a Black Democratic President, who has been drawing our involvement in the Middle East DOWN, just as he said he would, works with other nations to build consensus and support for a JOINT International Response, and the sandgbox bullies who want to fund DoD but nothing else start jumping up and down and crying “he can’t do that, impeach him”.

      You think President Obama has violated the law?

      How do you feel about our 16th President – you know, the one with the stove pipe hat that’s got a monument to him on the National Mall, and has his bust carved into Mt. Rushmore?

      Abraham Lincoln WAS found by the courts to have violated the law – but he also is considered our greatest president.

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