— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 9, 2017
In the wake of a missile strike against a Syrian airbase, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) said Congress has diminished its own responsibility when it comes to authorizing military strikes.
He said on Sunday’s episode of This Week that Barack Obama shouldn’t have put troops in Syria and Iraq without congressional approval, and that Donald Trump shouldn’t have implemented the Thursday missile strike. Host George Stephanopoulos, who worked as an advisor and communications guru for Bill Clinton, suggested that the president has the constitutional authority to do that. Schiff disagreed, and in fact claims Congress has been slack in its responsibilities.
“You can certainly argue, and President Obama did, that if this is limited, if it’s not full warfare, that he has the Article II power to do that,” Schiff said. “I also think, frankly, that Congress has itself to blame here. We sat on our hands for years. I’ve introduced authorization to use force. I couldn’t get a single vote on it. No one could. And so we have weakened our own role in checks and balances.”
On Thursday, the United States fired 59 tomohawk missiles against a Syrian airbase controlled by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. This is in retaliation against a chemical weapons attack purportedly by the Assad regime. Trump’s unilateral decision, however, sparked debate on the attack’s constitutionality. As we recently analyzed, presidents in the last 70 years are way more likely to move unilaterally, and Congress has given the executive branch more leeway.
In 2013, Obama tried and failed to get Congressional authorization on military action in Syria. Trump had this to say.
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
[Screengrab via ABC News]