US House and Senate leaders meet with President Barack Obama on June 18 to discuss the worsening crisis in Iraq. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is facing resistance from his own Democratic party as he mulls whether to launch US military strikes in Iraq.
Nearly 70 House Democrats have signed a letter urging Obama to seek congressional approval before ordering any offensive American military operations in the troubled Middle East country.
“As you consider options for US intervention, we write to urge respect for the constitutional requirements for using force abroad,” states the letter, spearheaded by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-California, and Scott Rigell, R-Va. “The Constitution vests in Congress the power and responsibility to authorize offensive military action abroad. The use of military force in Iraq is something the Congress should fully debate and authorize.
“Members of Congress must consider all the facts and alternatives before we can determine whether military action would contribute to ending this most recent violence, create a climate for political stability, and protect civilians from greater harm,” states the letter, which should go to Obama soon.
The nearly 70 Democrats are joined by nine Republicans on the letter, aligning them with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in calling for congressional action before the US plunges its military back into offensive operations in Iraq.
The members applauded Obama for taking a slow-walk approach to responding to an extremist Sunni group’s bloody advance across northern Iraq, saying they believe only a political resolution will solve the crisis.
“We do not believe [a US] intervention could be either quick or easy,” states the letter. “And, we doubt it would be effective in meeting either humanitarian or strategic goals, and that it could very well be counter-productive.” ■