Obama Calls on Congress to Act on Syria — House Republicans Decide to Stay on Vacation

john-boehnerFor weeks Republicans have been fear mongering about what President Obama might do as it relates to Syria.  The general talking point many of them used was that Obama would circumvent Congress and “go it alone.”  This of course brought the “he’s an unconstitutional tyrant” crowd out in full force.

As it turns out, the president did make a decision on Syria and his decision calls for Congressional approval for any kind of military action.

You would think with the stories circulating about the use of chemical weapons in the country, images of thousands of dead bodies laying in the streets and a civil war that only seems to be getting worse, Congressional leaders would end their five-week vacation early to come back to debate what involvement, if any, we should have.

Well, if you thought that—you’d be wrong.

Apparently, Syria isn’t an important enough issue for House leaders to call lawmakers back a few days early to begin the debate on whether or not we should use our military in Syria.

In a statement from House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris, they said:

“We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised.  In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th.  This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”

The last part is the part that actually made me laugh.  “This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”

So let me get this straight.  President Obama publicly states he supports military involvement in Syria, calls on Congressional approval before any such action can be taken and Republicans basically say “We’ll come back at our regularly scheduled date to give you enough time to prepare your case.”

I’m pretty sure Obama is ready to present his case, otherwise he wouldn’t have made his public statements on Syria and wouldn’t have asked Congress to return early.

Of course he can’t publicly state that he requested Congress to come back early.  That would be an attack on House Republicans, and as it stands he needs their support.

The problem is, Republicans fully expected President Obama to try and do this alone, and now they don’t know how to respond.  They never expected him to actually seek Congressional approval, and now that he has, what the heck are Republicans to do?

As I wrote a couple of days ago, his move is brilliant because it puts this decision on Congress—something many Republicans in Congress I don’t feel were prepared to deal with.

But to even go beyond that, it’s laughable that the party which so often calls Americans who aren’t working “lazy moochers” is the same party which decided not to come back a few days earlier from their five week vacation.

Senator Ted Cruz said they would—only if Obama publicly requested it.  Well, Ted Cruz is a nobody as far as Congress is concerned so he doesn’t determine if they return earlier.

The gall for these people to sit there and build a party platform on “hard work and personal responsibility” — then choose not to come back to work and act responsibly about our possible involvement in Syria.

Then again, like most things Republican, when they do something it’s acceptable.  It’s only when others do it then it’s suddenly a problem.

But imagine for a moment if the situation were reversed.  House Republicans saying a debate is needed on possible war following the news that chemical weapons are being used to commit genocide — and President Obama said, “I’ll get back with you in about 10 days when I’m supposed to be back.”

Hell, Republicans freak out any time the president takes any kind of vacation to begin with.  (Oh, and for the record, he’s still on pace to take fewer vacation days than Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.)  Could you imagine their reaction if he chose to stay on vacation instead of coming back to debate the issue of using our military in Syria?

Right-wingers all across the country would be freaking out.

Instead, they find it acceptable that their lawmakers have decided to stay on vacation.  In fact, they probably think it’s a good “slap in the face” to Obama that they won’t allow him to determine when they should come back to Washington.

But the real reason why Republicans in Congress refuse to come back has nothing to do with “giving Obama more time to build his case,” it’s because they don’t know what their stance will be.

Even though Boehner just stated that he supports military action in Syria, his failure to lead on debating this issue clearly shows for many of them, they simply aren’t sure how to react to Obama’s comments.

Because as the last few years have shown us, Boehner lacks the ability to get many within his party to follow his lead.  And while he may support military action, it can hardly be seen as any indicator of what other Congressional Republicans intend to support.

For weeks many of them had built this campaign about the president and how he would most likely bypass Congress to do whatever he wanted about Syria.  He would spit in the face of the Constitution and act like an out of control dictator instead of the President of the United States.

Well, instead of all of that, he’s asked for Congressional approval for any kind of military involvement — and now Republicans don’t know what the heck to do.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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