Rep. John Garamendi has called for President Barack Obama to seek Congressional approval before taking any military action in Syria.
Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and House Armed Service Committee colleague Rep. Walter Jones, N.C., on Wednesday sent letters to the president and the House leadership, calling for hearings on the potential risks and costs of intervening in the Syrian conflict.
The United States, Britain, France and others say that President Bashar al-Assad’s troops killed hundreds of civilians last week with chemical weapons; Assad has said it is insurgents who have used banned weapons.
“Syria is embroiled in a complex civil war in a region that is plagued by instability. Our top military strategists and regional experts have warned of the potential unintended consequences and escalating costs of any U.S. military intervention,” Garamendi said. “We need to consider the risks and dangers not only to our allies in the region, like Israel and Jordan, but also to the United States homeland before we militarily engage in another country’s civil war in the Middle East.
“I wholeheartedly agree with the Administration’s intention to protect Syrian civilians, but we must follow the ‘first do no harm’ rule. We need a full understanding of the situation before we move forward.”
Garamendi penned a provision in the recently passed defense bill emphasizing the legislation did not give the president the green light to use force in Syria.
“The past decade has amply demonstrated the folly of military commitments poorly conceived,” the congressman added. “Our brave men and women in uniform deserve better. The American people deserve a full explanation of the situation, the pending action, the strategic goal and the potential outcomes.”
Jones said Congress’ responsibility to authorize military forced has been “overlooked.”
“It is time that we uphold the Constitution, which makes it clear in Article 1, Section 8 that Congress alone holds the power to declare war,” he said.
In other developments on Wednesday, Iranian lawmakers warned that while they do not approve of the use of chemical weapons, any military action by Western powers against the Syrian government would provoke a retaliatory strike against Israel.