Sunday, April 9, 2017

Congressional incentives and war powers

Just a quick note today.  Funny how positions on congressional authorization for military action in Syria change when the party in the White House changes.

When Obama was President, Assad crossed the "red line" and used chemical weapons.  Plenty of hawks demanded action, but also demanded that Obama seek congressional authorization.  Congressional Republicans were caught in a bind.  They couldn't vote no because then they would be tacitly giving approval for Assad's actions, and they didn't want to vote yes because then, if anything went wrong, they'd be on the hook, just as Democrats who voted to go into Iraq were tied to that vote after things went badly there.  So, Republicans ducked, and refused to vote on anything.

Will they do things differently now?  Maybe, maybe not.  There is at least a higher probability of a congressional vote to authorize some action.  Why?  Simple.  Trump is a Republican, so no matter how congressional Republicans vote, they are stuck with the fallout, so there is less downside to voting yes.  They still might not vote, and as long as Trump stays within the 90 days total permitted by the War Powers Resolution, they don't need to do anything.  Hell, Obama violated that, and Congress didn't do anything anyway, so fuck it.  They don't have to do anything.  Never mind.

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