ST. GEORGE – Following last week’s missile strike against a Syrian airfield by U.S. forces, a Utah senator is calling on Congress to vote on a proposed bill that would require the president to seek congressional approval for military strikes conducted for humanitarian reasons.
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, are pushing the “Military Humanitarian Operations Act” they introduced to the Senate earlier this year.
“To help clarify and ensure that military force is used appropriately, Senator Rand Paul and I introduced S. 409, the Military Humanitarian Operations Act,” Lee said in a statement Monday. “It states any military operations conducted to fulfill a humanitarian purpose where hostilities are anticipated must be authorized by Congress.”
Lee’s push for the bill comes in response to last week’s military strike against a Syrian airfield from which Syrian President Bashar Assad is accused of having ordered planes into the air for the purpose of launching chemical attacks on civilians.
Gruesome images of the aftermath of the chemical attack were picked up by regional media and soon spread across the globe. Various world leaders condemned the attack laid at Assad’s feet. Last Thursday the United State’s responded with missile fire via President Donald Trump’s order.
Trump did not seek the prior approval of Congress to conduct the strikes, something Lee pointed out in his response to the strikes Thursday evening.
“President Trump should make his case in front of the American people and allow their elected representatives to debate the benefits and risks of further Middle East intervention to our national security interests,” Lee said Thursday.
For his part, Paul told CNN Saturday that the president’s unilateral action is an “inappropriate way to start a war” and that it should have been put to a vote in Congress,
Rand further stated: “As horrific as those attacks were, and as heart-rending as the pictures and the atrocity and the children dying are, I don’t believe that there was a national security interest of the United States.”
The president and senior administration officials had indicated the U.S. may strike at the Assad regime again should other attacks against civilians occur, Lee said. He argues any future attack, even for humanitarian purposes, must go through Congress first.
“We are all angered by the pictures and stories from Syria in recent years, and the desire to retaliate for these unfathomable attacks is understandable,” Lee said. “However the past 200 years, the separate and distinct roles of the executive and the legislative branches to declare war, launch military attacks, and defend against or retaliate for an attack against the United States have become blurred.”
He further stated:
While such operations and interventions are well intentioned, recent history has shown they are often risky and may result in unintended consequences that are detrimental to our national security. They should only be undertaken after serious consideration and approval by the elected representatives of the American people, ensuring that public accountability on war-making decisions exists.
In light of the developments over the past week, I call on the Senate to take up and pass S. 409 and for President Trump to work with Congress to achieve consensus on national security policies as called for in the Constitution.
Assad reportedly used chemical weapons against civilians in 2013, CNN reported. President Barack Obama sought congressional approval for military action in Syria at the time with top Republicans opposed to it.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was among those who apposed military strikes the Obama administration was asking for.
“What is clear is that launching a few missiles will do nothing to end Syria’s civil war, and is neither a real strategy to stop the deployment of chemical weapons in Syria nor a guarantee that chemical weapons won’t be used in the future by the Assad regime,” Hatch said. “That is not a plan for the region.
“That’s why I continue to have strong reservations about authorizing the use of force against Syria,” he said.
“No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” Amen.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) April 7, 2017
A request for comment from Hatch’s office regarding the senator’s stance on whether or not Trump should have sought congressional approval prior to last week’s military action was not returned by time of publication.
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