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Washington • Sen. Mike Lee says that if President Barack Obama wants to use military force in Syria, he must first seek congressional approval in the form of a declaration of war.
Congress hasn't declared war officially since World War II, though it has passed measures supporting engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and against terrorism worldwide.
Diplomatic talks aimed at ending a civil war inside the Middle Eastern nation have reached a stalemate, and the White House is reportedly considering escalating military involvement in Syria. Unnamed White House officials told NBC News this week that there could be unspecified "actions … that would further underscore the consequences of not coming back to the negotiating table."
Lee, a Utah Republican, says Obama must go through Congress if that's the case.
"If President Obama and his advisers want to increase the involvement of the United States in Syria in any manner including attacks against the Assad regime they have a constitutional responsibility to ask for a declaration of war from Congress," Lee said in a statement. "What the administration is considering represents a major departure from our current strategy, and carries potentially cataclysmic consequences which the American people have never debated in Congress."
If Obama does take action without congressional approval, Lee says Congress must be called back into session.