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Gohmert to Obama: Seek OK on Syria action

By Richard Yeakley
Aug. 30, 2013 at 10 p.m.


The congressman from Northeast Texas believes President Barack Obama should not take any military action against Syria without the approval of lawmakers in Washington.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the president and again Thursday while guest-hosting the Washington Watch radio program, Rep. Louie Gohmert argued Congress should be behind any military action in the wake of possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

"You have to define how doing anything helps the United States, because lest we forget, your oath, my oath, the president's oath all is to the United States, and we really seem to have lost sight of that," Gohmert, R-Tyler, said on the radio show. "We could get into another world war here, just by launching missiles. I don't think that will happen, but I am not sure that has been adequately weighed out. ... You have Russia, China has made statements about involvement, you have Germany coming and weighing in, you have Turkey on the side of the rebels. …

"All these potentially entangling alliances, and this could turn in to a disaster all emanating from a country where we have no national security interest."

The comments came during a discussion with Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla.

Bridenstine's segment ended with an exchange between him and Gohmert.

"The president does not get his authority to go to war in Syria from the United Nations or from NATO or from what they are now calling an internal coalition. He gets his authorization from the U.S. Congress, and so far he has not made his case," Bridenstine said.

"Well, you are exactly right. This is what happens when he went to battle in Libya and we did not stop him; we let him do it," Gohmert responded.

The letter sent to Obama was signed by 98 Republican and 18 Democratic representatives, including Gohmert.

"We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973," the letter reads. "While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate - and the active engagement of Congress - prior to committing U.S. military assets. 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 letter also called into question Obama's previous statements that authorization from Congress is not required because the military is not engaged in "hostilities."

Gohmert was not available Friday to discuss his statements.

Other Texas legislators share Gohmert's views.

On Tuesday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, released a statement arguing Obama should describe to Congress not just the need, but the cost of any military action.

"Before any action is taken regarding Syria, it is imperative that President Obama make the case to the American people and consult with Congress," Cornyn said. "He needs to explain what vital national interests are at stake and should put forth a detailed plan with clear objectives and an estimated cost for achieving those objectives."

Junior Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says there are "serious questions" about military action in Syria.

"It may be that there is a compelling case to be made that intervention in Syria is necessary to defend U.S. interests. But to date, no such case has been made by President Obama, leaving those of us in Congress with some serious questions," Cruz wrote in a statement Thursday.

Military action in Syria has been discussed this week after evidence showed chemical weapons have been used in the country's on-going civil war.

The Obama administration is accusing Bashar Assad's government of launching a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 1,429 people - far more than previous estimates - including more than 400 children.

Obama had said the use of chemical warfare would be a redline that could not be crossed without involvement from the foreign community.

On Thursday, the British Parliament voted against interaction in Syria in opposition to Prime Minister David Cameron's wishes, signaling England would not participate in any U.S. strike.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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