The Congressional Institute
1700 Diagonal Road. #730
Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (703) 837-8812

For Your Information: Senators: President Needs Congressional Authority to Wage War; A Day in the Life of Speaker Boehner

Senators: President Needs Congressional Authority to Wage War

President Barack Obama needs congressional authorization to wage a new offensive against the terrorist group Islamic State, two prominent Senators wrote this week. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, both published opinion articles about President Obama’s proposal this week.

Senator Corker voiced his support for the action, but believed the President overstepped his authority by not asking Congress for approval. In an article in USA Today, he wrote, “There is no doubt that the president has the authority as commander in chief to respond to immediate threats to the nation, including protecting the country from the threat of a terrorist attack. But conducting a multiyear military campaign against a new enemy in a new country merits its own specific authorization that the president requests and helps move through Congress.” He added, “Unless the president reverses course and requests congressional backing, our efforts to confront ISIL risk failure without the long-term domestic political support necessary for a multiyear campaign in at least two countries.”

Writing in The New York Times, Senator Kaine also rebuked the President for surpassing his constitutionally provided authority. According to him, the decision on whether or not the President has the authority to bypass Congress in authorizing military action against the Islamic State was decided when President Thomas Jefferson took action against the Barbary pirates in 1801. The Muslim pirates on the Barbary Coast were sinking American merchant ships, and Jefferson sent a small naval force to fight them. After the action, he announced that sans “the sanction of Congress”, he was not permitted to “go beyond the line of defense.” Senator Kaine believes the airstrikes initiated by the President during the congressional recess in August were warranted in order to protect the lives of Americans, but “the President is saying, ‘Now let’s go on the offense,’ and he needs congressional authority to do that.”

USA Today: Sen. Corker: Fighting ISIL Requires Congressional Backing

New York Times: Tim Kaine: Obama Must Get Congress’s Backing for the Fight Against ISIS

A Day in the Life of Speaker Boehner

So what’s it like to be the Speaker of the House?

If you’re anything like Speaker John Boehner, you’re up and about around 6:00am, head to Starbucks and Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill and then head to the Capitol for the rest of the day. You live the day by the motto, “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice”; sign enrolled bills with a big blue Sharpie; and meet with constituents other Members of Congress. Then you’re in bed before 10:00pm. Because “nothing good happens after 10:00pm”, the Speaker says.

At least that’s according to a video on Speaker Boehner’s office posted on his website showing his typical day. The short video offers an interesting look at how he handles his hectic schedule and features candid interviews with his scheduler, staff, and the Speaker himself. It also affords some fantastic views of the elegant architecture of the U.S. Capitol.

Speaker John Boehner: A Day in the Life of Speaker Boehner

And for our latest post: Perry’s Veto Case: A New–and Potentially Dangerous–Form of Judicial Review?

Sign up for email updates