Trump Needs Hill Authorization for Action on Syria, Maryland Democrats Say

In the wake of Friday’s air strikes on chemical weapons sites in Syria, some Maryland Democrats are calling on President Trump to obtain authorization from Congress before taking additional military action. “The 2001 [authorization for use of military force] is outdated for the pursuit of ISIS and other terrorist organizations, and both the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs do not at all apply to U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Said Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), an Iraq War veteran: “Congress and the American people are entitled to an open debate on our policy objectives and strategic goals and the President must come before Congress for the authority to engage in a sustained use of military force.” 

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin

The U.S. air strikes on chemical weapons targets in Syria, launched in partnership with the U.K. and France, were announced by the president in an address to the nation late Friday. While he has expressed outrage at the use of chemical weapons on civilians, the president has sent conflicting signals on what the nation’s role in Syria will be.  Cardin, who has urged greater humanitarian relief and a possible war crimes tribunal against President Bashar al-Assad, said: “Now that the bombs have fallen, the Trump Administration must pick up the mantle of leading a diplomatic, political solution to end the crisis in Syria that includes holding Bashar al-Assad accountable for his heinous war crimes. A comprehensive strategy must be articulated to Congress and all Americans without delay.” Said Brown: “The Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against civilians is reprehensible, abhorrent and a crime against humanity. The United States cannot look away when a dictator brazenly violates international law. We must deter Assad from using these weapons, degrade and eliminate his ability to manufacture these weapons, and make it abundantly clear we will not tolerate their use ever again.” The coalition air strikes have reinvigorated a decades-old debate about the president’s ability to take military action. “The Constitution requires Congress, not the President, to declare war and the War Powers Resolution obligates the President to come before Congress within a certain period to obtain authorization for military action,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). “We have received no War Powers notifications from the President.” Rep. Andrew Harris, the only Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, was asked by Maryland Matters for a comment for this story. His spokesperson pointed us to a tweet from the congressman that condemned Assad’s use of chemical weapons and praised Trump for his actions, but didn’t address the issue of presidential use of military force. Raskin accused the Trump administration of having no strategy for dealing with Syria or improving conditions in the Middle East. “A military strike is no substitute for a real policy,” he said. “The Trump administration has articulated no policy to promote peace, stability, or the human rights of the people in Syria. The population has been under attack by the Assad government and the Trump administration has no policy to help.”

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent more than two decades on local television, including 14 years as host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the D.C. metro region. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County, as well as a reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. Bruce also is the host of the weekly The Bruce DePuyt Podcast.

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