Va. lawmakers comment on U.S. actions in Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand guard during airstrikes by the U.S. forces targeting Islamic State militants at the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. The airstrikes by the U.S. forces were launched outside the Kurdish regional capital Irbil, and marked the first time U.S. forces have directly targeted the extremist Islamic State group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — Several lawmakers in Virginia released statements this week, regarding the President’s recent actions in Iraq.

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03):

As the President clearly stated last night, there is no American military solution to the crisis in Iraq and the only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and a stronger, stable Iraqi government. The President has described the humanitarian aid and limited airstrikes as necessary to protect American troops in northern Iraq and assist Iraqi civilians fleeing the horrific threats of violence from the ISIL terrorist group. Because these strikes are necessary to protect American troops, this action is consistent with the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief and the President must continue to consult with Congress, as he has done. However, if further sustained military action is necessary, it is incumbent on Congress to review all the facts, debate the issue and vote to authorize any additional sustained military action.

Congressman Scott Rigell (R-VA-02):

President Obama recently ordered U.S. forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in Iraq to defend Americans serving at our consulate in Erbil and to provide humanitarian assistance as well as a means of escape for the religious minorities stranded atop Mount Sinjar. I believe these actions are consistent with the President’s authority as defined by the Constitution and the War Powers Act.

It could be argued that this use of U.S. military force to provide a means of escape for those trapped atop the mountain has no direct connection to our national security, and thus requires prior authorization from Congress. However, the need to move quickly to prevent further loss of life of men, women and children is not in dispute, and the action authorized by the President – at this point at least – is purely defensive in nature. Importantly, providing a means of escape reflects our American character and core values, which includes a willingness to do what we can to defend the defenseless and to safeguard the most basic human right, which is life itself.

Though I agree with and support these recent decisions by President Obama, my strong objection to his past willingness to disregard the War Powers Act, and concern that he may disregard it again, specifically in Iraq, remains. Accordingly, I urge the President to present to the American people his vision and plan to elevate peace and stability in Iraq. Should that ever include the introduction of U.S. armed forces into hostilities, the President must first seek and receive authorization from Congress. It is not the king’s army.

My thoughts and prayers remain with U.S. forces currently in the region serving at American facilities.

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