Today, 227 years ago, on September 17th, our founding fathers signed our nation’s most precious document – the U.S. Constitution. As we celebrate Constitution Day today, and as the House votes on the President’s request to authorize aid to Syrian rebels and discusses steps to address the rising threat of ISIL – it is important to reflect on the founding principles of this nation.
Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution states, ‘Congress shall have power to….declare War.’
In his televised speech last week, the President outlined his plan to degrade and destroy ISIL. In his address, the President stated, ‘I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL,’ but that ‘congressional support’ would be welcomed in his efforts. Ironically, just seven years ago, Senator Barack Obama stated in an interview, ‘the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’
The Constitution gives our President the power to defend our country; however, that authority remains subject to checks and balances. In this case, as the Obama Administration has admitted, no specific plotting has been detected against our homeland. As such, if the President believes a state of war exists between ourselves and ISIL – and the comments made by both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State indicate that he does – then let him make if Constitutional by coming first to Congress.
On this historic day, Constitution Day, I urge President Obama to revisit this founding document – and take the opportunity to restore order and balance in the branches of government as our nation addresses the rising threat of ISIL.
Today, the House is expected to vote on the President’s request to authorize assistance to train and arm Syrian rebels. I have long opposed arming the Syrian opposition out of the fear that these weapons will fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, such as ISIL.
Rather than supporting relatively unknown opposition groups in Syria to battle the forces of the so-called ‘Islamic State,’ we must instead turn to our long-standing allies, the Kurds. The Kurds have shown repeatedly that they have the capacity, the tenacity, and the will to stand up to ISIL. With our support, the Kurdish Peshmerga, together with the Iraqi Security Forces, will be able to successfully annihilate the evil forces of ISIL.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, if the President wishes to engage this country in military action against ISIL, then I urge him to ask this Congress for a declaration of war. Therefore, I ask my colleagues to join me in opposition to this amendment and I yield back the balance of my time.
This post was adapted from a statement U.S. Rep Paul Broun, R-Ga., delivered today.