TCP Reiterates Need to Seek Congressional Approval for Military Action in Iraq

The Constitution Project and the Center for National Security Studies urged President Obama to seek congressional authorization if he decides it is necessary for the United States to use military force to address the current conflict in Iraq.

“While we take no position on whether as a matter of policy the United States should use force in this or any situation, we believe that the Constitution vests the power to make this solemn decision in Congress,” the two groups wrote in a July 25 letter to the president.  They indicated they had called on Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibilities earlier in the month.

The letter noted that the Obama administration had requested authorization from Congress before using military force in Syria in 2013, and asserted the “reasons for coming to Congress before using force in Syria are equally applicable and persuasive with respect to any decision to use force in Iraq now.”  The groups said neither the 2001 law that allowed President Bush to engage in military actions against al-Qaeda nor the 2002 law that permitted him to use military force to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction should be viewed as authority to join a new war that “at the time had not begun, was not foreseen, and involves parties who did not then exist.”

“The country is stronger when decisions to initiate the use of force abroad are made not by a single person, but instead by the deliberate, transparent, and collective judgment that the framers envisioned,” the organizations concluded.  Their message reinforces points made to the president and Congressional leaders in an earlier letter from a group of war powers experts organized by TCP.

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