The number of liberal Democrats calling for congressional approval on a sustained air campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria is growing, according to Politico.
Opinion on whether President Barack Obama has authority to act on his own is divided, but not along party lines. There are Democrats and Republicans in each camp.
Congressional leadership in both parties has been reluctant to call for a vote. That has put House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders in a position between many of their party members and their president, who believes the War Powers Act gives him authority to take action without them.
"A vote is necessary," Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett told The Hill. "The president is already empowered to act forcefully against those who murdered Americans, but he should seek congressional authorization to engage in the broader, sustained combat he envisions."
"It would be very reckless, in my view, for him to go in and start doing all this without getting a vote from the Congress," Washington Rep. Jim McDermott told MSNBC.
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that a vote is not called for, "because we believe the president has the authority."
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican House Speaker, also has ignored calls for a vote.
"People have some legitimate questions," Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said. "We ought to ask the questions before we get involved, rather than, you know, once we're in the middle of something."
McGovern in July pushed a resolution stating that Obama "shall not deploy or maintain" American forces in a sustained combat role in Iraq without congressional authorization. The resolution passed 370-40.
But ISIS forces, based in Syria, have since beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker and posted video of the executions online. Those actions have increased public sentiment that ISIS should be attacked, though many speculate ISIS is actually trying to draw the West into a ground war.
In a speech to the nation on Wednesday, Obama vowed no American ground troops would be sent to attack ISIS, but that training and other support for other groups, including the Free Syrian Army, would be provided.
It isn't clear whether a White House effort to tie authorization to a Republican continuing resolution on government spending will succeed. McGovern told The Hill he would likely vote against a CR that included arming Syrian rebels.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer has suggested putting off a vote until after November's midterm elections, but many Democrats believe that would be too late.
"If this Congress is not careful, it will be as guilty as previous Congresses — which go all the way back to the '60s and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution — in giving away our constitutional authority to the White House," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.
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