Lawmakers demand Obama consult them on Syria

Three Northern California House Democrats have signed onto a bipartisan letter urging President Obama to seek Congressional authorization for any military strike against Syria.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, are among 18 Democrats and 98 Republicans who’ve signed onto the letter drafted and circulated by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va.

“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,” the letter says. “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.”

Other California members who’ve signed Rigell’s letter include Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay; Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville; and John Campbell, R-Irvine.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., sent their own letter to the president today urging that he consult Congress.

And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Obama today urging the president to “personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”

UPDATE @ 11:54 A.M. THURSDAY: More Bay Area House members have signed onto Rep. Barbara Lee’s similar letter.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    The Doofus in Chief reminds us that he is a student of the constitution.

    “Here’s what I learned. I don’t have to pay no attention to it. Phffffffft!”

  • Josh, can you find out for us /why/ the other Democrats from the Bay Area did not sign the letter? I’m particularly interested in our Alameda County Delegation: Barbara Lee (who tweeted that Congress should be consulted), Eric Swalwell and Mike Honda. I’ll ask, but as a mere voter, they can ignore me more easily 🙂

  • RR Senile Columnist

    B Lee says: I oppose war with every fibre of my being. I have seen the evils of war first-hand, in the strife-torn streets of West Oakland and Fruitvale.

  • Publius

    Response to # 2:

    The reason why the other democrats did not sign the letter is because Obama is a Democrat and they are hypocrites.

  • Josh Richman

    @2 & 4: See update above.

  • Alcoahead


    Do you (any frequent commenter or tormentor on this blog) want Eric Swalwell to support Obama’s desire to drop cruise missiles on Syrian soil?

    Yes or No, please — no need to further blathering or justification — just the answer, please, in black and white:

    Alcoahead sez: No.

  • JohnW


    Unless I’m on a witness stand, I don’t do “yes or no” answers.

    Eric should make up his own mind, as long as he does it based on the merits as he sees it and not on opinion polls.

    I think Obama should have responded immediately to the chemical weapons attack with a drone-fired missile into Assad’s back yard as very personal “Next time, we won’t miss” message. He should have done it Israeli style, with no advance warning or all the hand-wringing speculation about what we might or might not do. Or maybe a horse’s head on his bed!

    I’m not for killing a bunch of people who had nothing to do with the use of those weapons. It would be nice if we could wipe out their chem/bio weapons stockpile. But you can’t do that from the air. That would take an incredibly risky special ops, boots on the ground mission.

    I’m also not for choosing sides in Syria, but we shouldn’t let the use of chemical weapons go unanswered. The only purpose of a missile attack is to make Assad think twice about using those weapons again, not to tilt the civil war one way or another.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Re 6: I decline to answer the question on the grounds it may incriminate me.

  • Alcoahead

    @7 —

    As we would say in court (or a Congressional hearing) to such a response, we’ll take that as a “Yes”.

  • JohnW

    Joel Brinkley had a column today saying that, like it or not, the U.S. and allies will have to go into Syria full force sooner or later. Not to defeat Assad but to defeat al Qaeda. He estimates that they now control 40% of the country. They are not only fighting Assad’s forces but killing the “good rebels” too. The idea that Brinkley might be right is vomit-inducing.

  • Alcoahead


    Let them (Al-Qaeda) control 100% of that country (Syria) — I control 100% of the energy needed to power my house and my car via solar — and as Syria has NO oil, and I am NOT Jewish, why should I care that Syrians want to kill each other (Good riddance…)? No one has made a compelling argument against Rand Paul’s neo-isolationism…

  • Elwood

    Barack Obama is our greatest leader since Jimmy Carter.

  • JohnW


    Yeah, baby, and he should be impeached forthwith. Obama has finally crossed the red line. Fox News (Lou Dobbs and others) is beside itself over a White House photo of Obama standing behind his Oval Office desk speaking on the phone to John Boehner, with one foot on, oh no, the desk. Oh the humanity! That’s the H.MS. Resolute desk used by JFK, Carter, RR, Clinton and Bush 43 I suspect the wood in the desk has been through worse things than Obama’s foot. No, I’m not talking about Bill and Monica.

  • Elwood

    @ 13

    This is not the first time he has used the oval office desk for a foot rest.

    Obama has no respect for history, no respect for the office of the President and no class.

  • JohnW


    Your faux (or is that Fox) outrage kills me, Elwood.

    I’m sure you felt the same way when G.W. Bush was photographed kicking back in his chair and planting the heels of both feet on that same desk. Gerald Ford did the same thing but with a different desk. Then there was G.W. doing his “funny” video for the correspondent’s dinner, crawling around and under the furniture in the Oval, searching for those elusive WMD’s. That was a real thigh-slapper!

    It’s a working office, not a shrine. And I’m pretty sure the desk won’t be showing any scuffs or scratches. It’s not from Ikea.

  • Elwood

    @ 15

    The only one I’ve ever seen photographed with his feet on the desk in the oval office is our feckless leader, the doofus in chief.

    I’ll take your word on the rest of it, John.

  • JohnW

    Fox’s evil twin, MSNBC, showed the Bush and Ford photos. Scouts honor!