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Mr. Speaker, Get Behind SOMETHING

Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-2) is no stranger to military service, having served six years in the Marine Corps Reserve – and neither are his constituents who constitute the greatest concentration of active duty military personnel in any congressional district.
Speaker John Boehner
So when Scott Rigell calls on Speaker John Boehner to call the House back into session to prevent President Barack Obama from usurping Congress’s constitutional authority to authorize—or not authorize—the use of military force in Syria, this is not some limousine liberal or "whacko bird" talking, but a man of honor who well knows the American military and its constitutional underpinnings.

Rigell, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is one of the moving forces behind an August 28 bipartisan letter to President Obama, signed by “over 100” House members, setting forth the case that the President lacks the constitutional authority to attack Syria without congressional authorization, unless the use of force is needed to protect the United States from an attack.

The letter (available through this link thanks to our friends at clearly and concisely rebuts the White House assertion that the President merely needs to find that it is in the “national interest” to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization.

The letter signed by this bipartisan group makes the point that intervention in Syria, like Obama’s unauthorized intervention in Libya, is not only unconstitutional, but most importantly, that the President’s argument asserting the power to intervene is (without using the word) disingenuous in the extreme.

In knocking down Obama’s argument that the United States was not “engaged in hostilities,” Rigell and his House colleagues asked, “If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute ‘hostilities,’ what does?”

The same question should be asked right now, as at least four destroyers, each armed with over 90 missiles, stand by in the eastern Mediterranean Sea waiting for the order to strike Syria.

The problem for Rigell and the bipartisan group of House members who share his view is that right now, Congress is not in session. And the only person who can bring the House back, besides President Obama who clearly has no interest in doing so, is Speaker of the House John Boehner.

According to reporting by Terence P. Jeffrey of CNSNews, Rigell said that if Obama does not call Congress back to seek its approval for an attack on Syria, then he personally believes Boehner should call the House back into session immediately. asked Rigell what he would tell Speaker Boehner if he spoke to him right now.

Rigell said: “Mr. Speaker, based on what the president is saying right now, that I do think we need to get ahead of this. I think our conference needs to be bold and united—not only our conference, but so many members of the Democratic minority. It’s so important on this matter that it is not presented as a partisan matter. It is not. And the tone of our letter, though firm, is respectful. But it is unambiguous.

“I’d ask the speaker, look, get behind something,” said Rigell. ‘If not this letter, then something."

One important point that was missing from Congressman Rigell’s letter and from his interview with CNSNews is that the House has already voted – unanimously we might add – in favor of the Radel amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that says, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for United States military involvement in Syria without express authorization of Congress.” (you can read the Radel amendment here)

With the Radel amendment already passed and the “over 100” members of Congress supporting Scott Rigell’s letter, the important question is not “will Obama follow the Constitution,” because he’s made it clear in this, and a myriad of other situations, that he won’t.

The important question is, “will the Speaker and the House leadership defend the constitutional powers and prerogatives of Congress against a President who appears ready to assume almost dictatorial power?”

Speaker of the House John Boehner is the only person who can answer this make or break question on the future of the Constitution and the constitutional separation of powers.

In the Speaker's hands rests the decision on whether Congress will come back into session to remain a coequal branch of government by maintaining its power to authorize—or not authorize—the use of military force in Syria. If he fails to act, Congress will be relegated to the status of a mere appendage of the Executive, used only to levy taxes and rubber stamp the decisions of an imperial president.

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"Congress will be relegated

"Congress will be relegated to the status of a mere appendage of the Executive",

Voters have relegated to the status of a mere appendage of the Congress, leaving Americans out of the loop entirely where 'going to war' is concerned as the Executive distances itself from the Voters.

Congress must stop the dictator

It is obvious to this Marine that the ability to wage war in the hands of the power hungry is an accident waiting to happen. We need to clearly define the use of force to protect the United States from attack. We all know that the this and previous administrations used the same tactics to invade other countries. The time is now, to draw a line in the sand. To return to the vision of OUR Forefathers is what is best for OUR Country.