Rep. Zoe Lofgren Statement on President still actively considering hostilities against Syria

August 30, 2013
Press Release

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) released the following statement today after President Obama's remarks at the White House that he is still actively considering hostilities against Syria.

"When President Obama tells us that he has not yet made a "decision" on whether the U.S. military will commence hostilities with Syria, he has misunderstood his authority. As Constitutional scholars have said, including Mr. Obama himself when he was running for his office, the President should understand that it is not his decision alone to make. He is required to obtain the consent of the U.S. Congress before he engages in hostilities with Syria. To commence hostilities without statutory authorization from Congress violates the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and the United States Constitution. To argue that dropping bombs on another country for a short period of time is not an act of war is foolishness.

Internationally his footing is equally perilous. Without a resolution from the UN Security Council, and in the face of a request from the UN that no action commence until a full report from UN inspectors is received, America cannot commence hostilities with Syria while remaining within the bounds of international law.

The Obama administration says we must act to defend "international norms." But how can we defend international norms by breaking international law?

For the President to act without Congressional authorization, without UN approval, without the support of the Arab League, and without our closest ally Great Britain, would be a serious error. The debate on the wisdom of military action, and what form it might take should we choose that option, remains to be had in the Congress of the United States, and in the context of the wishes of the American people. President Obama must not rush to action without allowing our American democracy and Constitutional system to function.

Like many Members of Congress, I doubt the wisdom of initiating further hostilities in the Middle East. However, like all Members, I will approach that debate with an open mind, listen to the President, and then join with my colleagues in exercising our Constitutional and statutory authority over matters of war and peace. Only after such a debate, and only with the approval of both houses of Congress, could the President legitimately proceed."