Growing concerns in Congress over a possible U.S. military strike in Syria were outlined in a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday, urging him to call Congress back into session.
The letter, initiated by Republican Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell and endorsed by 27 Republican and six Democratic House members, said the president should consult with the Congress as a whole "before engaging our military" in response to possible chemical weapons use by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request,” the letter reads, according to Politico
. “We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.”
Rigell called for a similar congressional consultation last year before the administration launched strikes in Libya.
"This is not personal to the president," Rigell told The Washington Post
. "It’s not saying that some type of action isn’t warranted. That’s not the point. The point is it must be collaborative and deliberative."
In an effort to keep Congress informed, the White House has begun calling in some congressional leaders and key lawmakers to brief them on possible actions against Syria, but that's not enough, Rigell said, if the president plans to take immediate military action.
"I am not calling for us to come into session unless the president is on the cusp of saying, ‘Look, this has got to be done, and it has to be done in a timely manner,'" Rigell told the Post. "If he’s at that point, absolutely, I don’t care where members are, if they’re on the opposite side of the world,” he said. “We’re talking about the engagement of U.S. forces.”
In the letter, Rigell wrote that “engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United State exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”
Not all of Rigell's Republican colleagues are convinced, however, that Congress needs to authorize action against Syria.
Rep. Pete King of New York told CNN Monday night that he believes Obama has the right as commander in chief to take action.
Related: Peter King Says Obama Doesn't Need Congress to Act on Syria
"It's in his interest to consult with the leadership in the House and Senate, but I don't believe he has to," King said.
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