On Wednesday, September 4, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) showed Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) what being a “maverick” really means.
After voting against a measure sponsored by McCain authorizing President Obama to order a military attack on Syria, Paul laid out the moral and constitutional issues with waging war on the Assad regime:
We are told there is no military solution in Syria, yet we are embarking on a military solution. The President has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war.
To be sure, there is a tragedy of a horrific nature in Syria, but I am unconvinced that a limited Syrian bombing campaign will achieve its intended goals. I frankly think that bombing Syria increases the likelihood of additional gas attacks, may increase attacks on Israel and Turkey, may increase civilian deaths, may increase instability in the Middle East, and may draw Russia and Iran further into this civil war.
By pre-announcing a limited attack, we pre-announce limited effect.
Our brave young soldiers should not be asked to risk their lives and limbs in a civil war with no certain ally. On the one hand, we have a tyrant who gassed his own people. On the other hand, we have radical Islamists and al-Qaida. When no compelling American interests exist, we should not intervene. No compelling interests exist in Syria.
Despite Paul’s appeal to reason and the rule of law, McCain’s measure passed out of committee by a vote of 10-7.
During the hearing, Paul offered an amendment aimed at reminding his colleagues of the constitutional limits on the executive branch.
Paul’s amendment declared, “It is the sense of the Senate that the President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Not surprisingly, the committee voted 14-4 against Paul’s amendment.
Undaunted, should the full body of the Senate be permitted to vote on the call to grant the president dictatorial war-waging power, Senator Paul promises to renew his retrenchment measure. “It should be made explicit that the Constitution invested the power to go to war in Congress. Since the Administration refuses to say it will abide by this vote, win or lose, Congress should send a clear message,” Paul said.
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