By my count, at least 162 Members of the House of Representatives, including 64 Democrats, have done at least one of the following things in the last few days: 1) signed a letter initiated by California Democrat Barbara Lee saying that there must be Congressional debate and vote before war with Syria; 2) signed a letter initiated by Virginia Republican Scott Rigell saying that there must be Congressional debate and vote before war with Syria 3) issued a statement calling for a Congressional debate and vote before war with Syria. I don’t claim that this count is exhaustive. If you know of other examples, please share them in the comments.
By my count, at least 64 Democrats in the House have done at least one of these three things. Add this to the 98 Republicans who signed the Rigell letter and you get 162.
These are the 54 Democratic signers of the Lee letter, according to Lee’s office:
Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, Lois Capps, Zoe Lofgren, John Lewis, Jackie Speier, Raúl Grijalva, Robin Kelly, Beto O’Rourke, Michael H. Michaud, Mark Pocan, Peter A. DeFazio, Peter Welch, Chellie Pingree, Nydia M. Velázquez, Sam Farr, Stephen F. Lynch, Lloyd Doggett, Janice Hahn, Jared Huffman, Tulsi Gabbard, Emanuel Cleaver, Rush Holt, Jim McDermott, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Suzanne Bonamici, José E. Serrano, George Miller, Donna F. Edwards, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Steve Cohen, Marcy Kaptur, Danny K. Davis, Alcee L. Hastings, James P. McGovern, Judy Chu, Marcia L. Fudge, Alan S. Lowenthal, Charles B. Rangel, Bobby L. Rush, Carolyn B. Maloney, Janice Schakowsky, Donna M. Christensen, David Loebsack, Richard M. Nolan, Henry A. Waxman, Diana DeGette, Yvette D. Clarke, Keith Ellison, Niki Tsongas, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John A. Yarmuth, Julia Brownley.
These are the 18 Democratic signers among the 116 signers of the Rigell letter, as noted by The Hill:
Zoe Lofgren, Rush Holt, Beto O’Rourke, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, William Enyart, Tim Walz, Sam Farr, Bruce Braley, Jim McDermott, Michael Capuano, Anna Eshoo, Earl Blumenauer, Peter Welch, Rick Nolan, David Loebsack, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson.
Sixty-three Democrats signed at least one of the two letters.
In addition, New York Democrat Jerry Nadler put out a statement saying that there must be a debate and vote.
Why does this matter? It matters because if President Obama were to strike Syria without Congressional authorization, he would violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
But it also matters because debate surfaces key information.
Earlier this week, press was reporting that the U.S. bombing of Syria could start as early as Thursday.
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By Thursday, here had been no bombing.
Instead, on Thursday, AP reported that “the intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no ‘slam dunk,’” and that this “uncertainty calls into question the statements by Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden":
So while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that links between the attack and the Assad government are "undeniable," U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad's orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.
Ideally, the White House seeks intelligence that links the attack directly to Assad or someone in his inner circle to rule out the possibility that a rogue element of the military decided to use chemical weapons without Assad's authorization. Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government's control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war.
Kerry had said: "We know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons."
By Thursday, we knew that what Kerry said on Monday was not true. He said “we know.” But, according the U.S. intelligence officials cited by AP, we don’t know.
If the bombing had happened on Thursday, then the bombing would have happened before AP reported that what Kerry said on Monday was not true.
Can people still say with a straight face that Congress shouldn’t debate and vote before the President attacks Syria, or that it doesn’t matter if they do?
If you think Congress should debate and vote before any war with Syria, you can join 25,000 people at MoveOn in telling Congress here.