As President Obama weighs military action in Syria, one lawmaker from Virginia is pressuring him to get approval from Congress first. Republican Rep. Scott Rigell is circulating a letter telling the president he would be violating the constitution if he decided to strike Syria without Congressional approval. At least 140 House members have signed on to the effort. David Hawkings, writer for the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, talks about the situation.
On why he thinks Rep. Rigell has been the lead on this cause:
"Rigell is something of an iconoclastic Republican. He's a sophomore Republican, represents the Hampton Roads area. Ever since he got here, he took on Obama over Libya two years ago, when he was a freshman... actually forced this issue to a vote in Congress... tried to get a vote on cutting off funding for the Libya operation. After the president didn't get the advanced permission, Rigell lost that vote, but he is determined to press the issue again."
Congress is in the middle of an August recess and won't return until September 9. On how Obama could get approval before then:
"Well, he would have the theoretical power to call Congress back — he's not going to. And I should note that the two most powerful names not on the letter are the two most powerful congressional leaders from our area — Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer. Generally the leader of the House is bipartisan, united, behind the president on this. And is not going to force Congress to come back."
On what Obama ultimately risk if he sidesteps Congress on this:
"He risks a lot of bellyaching, and he risks being called a hypocrite because back when he was a senator, he was on the other side of this. He was on he other side of saying President Bush should have to get consultation. Now that he's the president, he sees it differently."
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