Public: Obama Needs Congress' Blessing on Syria

80% say White House shouldn't go it alone

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2013 4:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – The American people aren't excited about the prospect of attacking Syria, and they overwhelmingly believe that President Obama should get congressional approval before doing it. In a new NBC News poll, a whopping 80% said the White House should get the OK from Congress before attacking. While the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, the US hasn't formally declared one since World War II. Most of the military endeavors since—including, most recently, Obama's intervention in Libya—have been executive actions, ABC News explains.

This week 140 lawmakers, including 21 Democrats, sent a letter to Obama urging him to get Congress' blessing, and complaining that the Libya mission was unconstitutional, according to the Hill. John Boehner also reiterated those concerns in a briefing call with Obama yesterday. With or without approval, the public is leery of Syria; the NBC poll showed that 50% opposed any action, to only 42% who supported it—even though 58% agreed that chemical weapon usage was a "red line" that should provoke a US response. (The White House briefed members of Congress last night on its evidence, and John Kerry today made the case that it's rock solid.)

Demonstrators take part in a protest calling for no military attack on Syria outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution. - A letter signed by 140 lawmakers

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