“There is no legal basis for last night’s missile strike against Syrian military assets,” the Madison-area Democrat declared in a statement on April 7, 2017. “Congress must be called back immediately, if President Trump plans to escalate our military involvement. He must send a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to Congress, as I have previously called for.”
The 59-missile assault was launched in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the government against Syrian civilians two days earlier. News reports quoted U.S. officials as saying Trump had the right to use force to defend national interests and to protect civilians from atrocities.
Meanwhile, first-term U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, while praising the “limited strikes,” also said Trump “should seek congressional authorization for any sustained military operation in Syria.”
There’s certainly debate over the extent of a president’s authority to use military force without approval from Congress.
But Pocan went too far in saying there is no legal basis for Trump’s action.
To support Pocan’s claim, his office noted the U.S. Constitution assigns to Congress the power to declare war, and sent us commentary on that provision and the missile attack by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU reiterated its position that “the decision to use military force requires Congress’ specific, advance authorization.”
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