Senate Dem: Obama Should Have Waited for Congressional OK Before Fighting ISIS

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said President Obama should have waited for congressional authorization before taking military action against ISIS.

“The way in which the president decides to conduct these operations matters as to how willing Congress is to react. In Syria, he said he wasn’t going to act without congressional authorization and so a debate was forced in the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When it came to the fight against ISIS, he proceeded in a very different way,” Murphy said during “A New Foreign Policy for America” discussion at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“What would have happened if he had said, ‘I need to act and I am not going to do it until the Congress gives me the power to do it.’ I would argue that we would have come together, that we would have figured out a path forward. The division on this is significant but not irreconcilable but we aren’t forced to do it because there is no consequence – no practical consequence – for our inaction. It’s incumbent upon the president to follow the constitutional bounds and alignment of responsibilities as well.”

In February, the Obama administration sent a formal request for authorization to Congress but it was not approved.

“The president already has statutory authority to act against ISIL,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in March. “But a clear and formal expression of this Congress’s backing at this moment in time would dispel doubts that might exist anywhere that Americans are united in this effort.”

Murphy, a member of the Appropriations Committee, argued that Obama should have not have proceeded with military action against ISIS until the operation was authorized.

“It's easy for Congress to just stand back and let the executive become more powerful when it comes to the conduct of American foreign policy, in part because the president, I would argue, isn't abiding by the Constitution and waiting for congressional authorization before he proceeds militarily,” Murphy said after the event.

Murphy also weighed in on the status of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

“One of my colleagues goes down to the floor of the Senate and says, ‘well, you know, taking out Iran’s nuclear capability militarily would be a two-day endeavor’ without any conversation about what the follow-on effects would be. So the conversation about the framework can’t happen within a vacuum, it has to come in a comparative analysis as to what the alternatives are,” Murphy said.

“But I do think it’s an exceptional framework. Would I love for the agreement to be longer than 10 years? Absolutely, but elements of it are and I do buy the argument that if you are able to give a win to the moderates that there is a better chance than if you rejected chance that if you rejected this agreement that ultimately you are able to work with that coalition on other underlying festering issues as well,” he added.