Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Huffman to White House: Consult Congress Before Any Military Engagement in Syria

Aug 29, 2013
Press Release
Huffman: “The United States must not repeat past mistakes by launching a military ‘response’ to something that has yet to be verified.”

WASHINGTON­—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today joined 53 Democrats led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), in a letter calling on President Obama to consult Congress before the use of any military force in response to the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

“I am disgusted and outraged by the use of chemical weapons in Syria, apparently at the hands of the Assad regime. President Assad must be held accountable for any use of chemical weapons, but the United States must not repeat past mistakes by launching a military ‘response’ to something that has yet to be verified,” Congressman Huffman said. “President Obama should consult with, and seek approval from Congress before using American military force, and ensure that any action by the United States is appropriate, legitimate, and carefully limited to prevent our country from becoming militarily entangled in this complex sectarian conflict.”

A PDF of the letter may be found here, and the full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We join you and the international community in expressing unequivocal condemnation over the news that chemical weapons were reportedly used by the government of Syria.

While we understand that as Commander in Chief you have a constitutional obligation to protect our national interests from direct attack, Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force if the United States or its direct interests (such as its embassies) has not been attacked or threatened with an attack. As such, we strongly urge you to seek an affirmative decision of Congress prior to committing any U.S. military engagement to this complex crisis.

While the ongoing human rights violations and continued loss of life is horrific, they should not draw us into an unwise war -- especially without adhering to our own constitutional requirements. We strongly support the work within the United Nations Security Council to build international consensus condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons and preparing an appropriate response; we should also allow the U.N. inspectors the space and time necessary to do their jobs, which are so crucial to ensuring accountability.

As elected officials, we have a duty to represent the will and priorities of our constituents, consistently with the Constitution we all swore to uphold and defend. Before weighing the use of military force, Congress must fully debate and consider the facts and every alternative, as well as determine how best to end the violence and protect civilians. We stand ready to work with you.