Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Reps Nolan, Gibson, & Welch: Reconvene Congress Immediately to Deal with Syrian Crisis

Aug 28, 2013
Press Release
Bipartisan call to President Obama and House Leadership
DULUTH, MN – President Obama and House leaders should call lawmakers back to Washington immediately to deal with the rapidly escalating possibility of U.S. military action against the government of Syria, Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) urged today in a letter to President Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 
 
Said Nolan, “Before engaging our military forces in what would clearly be an act of war, the President is Constitutionally bound to seek authorization from Congress. And we are bound to consider the potential consequences, and advise and consent to any such action.” 
 
Noting that the British Parliament is about to reconvene to debate the situation in Syria, the letter pointed to the Constitutional responsibility of both the President and Congress to consult with one another in matters leading to U.S. military action, as well as to an amendment to the recently passed 2014 Defense Appropriations Act stipulating that no funds be expended to assist armed combatants in Syria in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Congress passed that law in the closing days of the Vietnam War in an effort to assure that no future President would involve the United States in another military conflict without the consent of Congress. 
 
Nolan, Rep. Gibson, an Iraq War veteran, and Rep. Welch point to issues Congress must discuss and resolve before any military intervention in Syria. “It is critical for us all to understand that once an attack in launched, there will be permanent and unavoidable consequences that require us to answer hard questions sooner or later,” the letter states. 
 
Among those issues:
 
“Can we afford engagement in another costly armed conflict halfway around the world? As we approach a potential domestic crisis over the debt ceiling and our ability to fund our government and maintain essential services to our people, what urgent needs here at home will go unfunded and unattended in order to support military engagement in Syria? What resources would an attack on Syria require, and over what period of time?”
 
“Would a U.S. attack result in even greater use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government?”
 
“What collateral damage to innocent civilians would result from a U.S. attack on Syrian government forces? And how could additional civilian deaths and injuries, this time at America’s hand, be justified?”
 
“Would Arab and Islamic fundamentalists use U.S. involvement as a trigger to retaliate with acts of terror against our homeland?”
 
“Would Russia and Iran feel compelled to come to Syria’s aid, sparking a potential superpower confrontation by proxy?”
 
“Recognizing that we have no friends on any side of the Syrian conflict, would U.S involvement ultimately serve only to prolong the war and exacerbate the killing?”
 
“In our view, Congress must address these critical questions immediately, before any U.S. military engagement in Syria. Once again, we urge you to call us back into session with the utmost haste,” the letter concluded.
 
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Full text of the letter as follows: 

 
August 28, 2013
 
The Hon. Barack Obama
President of the United States
 
The Hon. John Boehner
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
 
The Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
 
Dear President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Leader Pelosi: 
 
With events moving rapidly toward U.S. military involvement in Syria, and the British Parliament reconvening to debate and consider similar actions, we respectfully urge you to immediately end the recess and reconvene the United States Congress to meet our Constitutional obligation to address these matters. 
 
Such action would be entirely consistent with the Radel Amendment to the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act, passed on July 24 by voice vote, stating that no funds shall be expended to assist armed combatants in Syria in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. As you know, the spirit and intent of that law is to assure that no President will involve the United States in military conflict without the consent of Congress. 
 
Then as now, before engaging our military forces in what may well be an act of war, the President is Constitutionally bound to seek authorization from Congress. And we are bound to consider the potential consequences, and advise and consent to any such action.
 
It is critical for us all to understand that once an attack is launched, there will be permanent and unavoidable consequences that require us to answer hard questions sooner rather than later. 
 
Can we afford engagement in another costly armed conflict halfway around the world? As we approach a potential domestic crisis over the debt ceiling and our ability to fund our government and maintain essential services to our people, what urgent needs here at home will go unfunded and unattended in order to support military engagement in Syria? What resources would an attack on Syria require, and over what period of time? 
 
Would a U.S. attack result in even greater use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government?
 
What collateral damage to innocent civilians would result from a U.S. attack on Syrian government forces? And how could additional civilian deaths and injuries, this time at America’s hand, be justified? 
 
Would Arab and Islamic fundamentalists use U.S. involvement as a trigger to retaliate with acts of terror against our homeland?
 
Would Russia and Iran feel compelled to come to Syria’s aid, sparking a potential superpower confrontation by proxy?
 
Recognizing that we have no friends on any side of the Syrian conflict, would U.S involvement ultimately serve only to prolong the war and exacerbate the killing?
 
In our view, Congress must address these critical questions immediately, before any U.S. military engagement in Syria. Once again, we urge you to call us back into session with the utmost haste. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Richard Nolan
Member of Congress
 
Chris Gibson
Member of Congress
 
Peter Welch
Member of Congress