Constitution Requires Trump Get Approval for Military Action in Syria
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) led nearly 70 of his House
colleagues today in demanding that President Donald Trump submit a plan and request
authorization for any future use of military force against the Syrian government.
“The President’s decision to escalate our military involvement in Syria is deeply
concerning. Donald Trump does not have a blank check to put our troops in harm’s
way,” said Cicilline. “The Constitution requires that he receive Congressional
approval to take further military action. Our Constitution demands accountability,
and it’s what our brave men and women in uniform deserve.”
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
July 26, 2017
Dear Mr. President:
We have serious concerns about the escalation of American military action in Syria.
The U.S. military reportedly engaged in strikes against pro-Assad forces on the
ground on May 18, June 6, and June 8, and shot down armed Iranian-made drones in
Southern Syria on June 8 and June 20.
Additionally, on June 18 a U.S. fighter aircraft shot down a Syrian SU-22 bomber
south of the Syrian city of Tabqah in Raqqah province. This was the first time the
U.S. has downed a manned Syrian aircraft in the course of the Syrian conflict.
You must report to Congress within 48 hours of any unauthorized use of force, as you
did on April 8, 2017 following the U.S. strikes against the Shayrat airfield in
Syria. If you do not receive congressional authorization, you must stop using
military force within 60 days of the initial report. This time limit may be extended
for 30 additional days if necessary, only to safely remove forces.
Administration officials have offered differing explanations to legally justify your
strikes against the Syrian regime and its associated forces. Therefore, we urgently
request that you submit to Congress within seven calendar days a report that
includes (1) circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed
Forces, (2) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such
introduction took place, and (3) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities
or involvement. Failing those requirements under the War Powers Resolution, we
expect a full brief of the ongoing Operation Inherent Resolve and any successor
operations to accompany a request for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force.
According to longstanding executive branch interpretations, the 2001 Authorization
for Use of Military Force (P.L. 107-40) does not provide authority for attacking the
Syrian government or any of its associated forces. Despite the lack of congressional
authorization, Congress has not received any reports pursuant to the War Powers
Resolution for the strikes that took place between May 18 and June 20. If you intend
to continue military action against the government of Syria or its associated
forces, you must present a strategy to Congress and request specific authorization.
The Constitution gives the power to declare war to the United States Congress. It is
our responsibility as the elected representatives of the American people to ensure
that any military engagement involving our men and women in uniform is done with the
support of Congress, and has a clearly articulated strategy, against a defined
target, with a clear purpose that prioritizes the security of the United States.
Our efforts to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda are of the utmost importance to American
national security. We are concerned that increasing escalation in Syria without the
consent of the American public through their elected representatives, will embroil
the United States military in a protracted and unauthorized war without any strategy
for victory. It is our responsibility to ensure that any decision to engage U.S.
troops in military conflict is made with Congress’s constitutionally mandated
consent and urge you to act accordingly.
Members of Congress