U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said Tuesday that President Obama’s seeking authorization from Congress for military action in Syria was a “precedent-setting move” with respect to the constitutionally mandated powers enjoyed by the executive and legislative branches of government.
“I believe that he’s made a precedent-setting move that we need to move back to the way that Jefferson and Madison and all the framers intended this — you bring Congress in because it’s in the Constitution, but you also bring Congress in because we can’t have servicemen and women risk their lives without political support,” the Virginia Democrat said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“If we’re going to put servicemen and women in harm’s way, they have to be able to count on the fact that the nation’s political leadership is unified behind them. If they go in on a presidential order with members of Congress griping about it, it’s completely unfair,” he said.
On whether the delay in launching a strike has strengthened the Syrian government, Mr. Kaine, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that “they can run, but they can’t hide.”
“We’re going to be stronger as a nation if we do this, with the president and Congress having debated it,” he said. “We’re stronger by following this constitutional principle.”
Mr. Kaine did agree the president has the power to act and then come to Congress, but said he didn’t think it would come to that.
“There will be some jousting procedurally, but I do believe, based on discussions I’ve had with Senate colleagues — I was on a number of conference calls with them, Democratic and Republican last week, prior to the president making the decision about coming to Congress — I think you’ll see strong congressional support because I think we still care about the international principle that you don’t use chemical weapons against civilians,” he said. “Vladimir Putin may not care, but I think members of the American Congress do care and will care.”