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Senator Tim Kaine Stumps for Constitution, Against Obama’s Assertion of Commander-in-Chief Powers

June 26, 2014 (EIRNS)—Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has put himself forward forcefully as a national voice against President Obama’s assertion that he can take military action in Iraq, without a formal agreement from Congress.

Following his submission of an op-ed on the subject to the Washington Post, that op-ed has begun to be picked up around the country, so far being published in newspapers from Utah to Connecticut.

Then, on the morning of June 25, the Senator gave a long speech during the Morning Session, in which he elaborated his argument against that of the President. He took on the issue directly from start:

"Last week, the President summoned congressional leadership to the White House to discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq and a potential U.S. response. Press reports of the meeting had Members quoting the President as saying he had all necessary authority for military action already, and some accounts had the congressional leaders also agreeing that the President had necessary authority.

"I do not believe this President—or any President—has the ability without congressional approval to initiate military action in Iraq or anywhere else, except in the case of an emergency posing an imminent threat to the United States or its citizens.

"I also assert that the current crisis in Iraq, while serious and posing the possibility of a long-term threat to the United States, is not the kind of conflict where the President can or should act unilaterally. If the United States is to contemplate military action in Iraq, the President must seek congressional authorization.

"Let me point out that the White House has been in significant consultation with congressional leadership and Members in the past weeks, and that consultation is important and it is appreciated. But it is not the same thing as seeking congressional authority. That has yet to be done, and it must be done if the United States intends to engage in any combat activity in Iraq...."

Sen. Kaine went on to elaborate why the Founders insisted on Congressional authorization, and to expound on the importance of public debate and support for any military action. He pointed to the events around the avoidance of the strike on Syria, as an example of success on this matter.

Then, this morning, June 26, Sen. Kaine appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he was asked again about his differences with the Democratic leadership on whether Obama needed to go to Congress, to go to war. Kaine was clear: It’s a matter of the law. He doesn’t care about the politics—the power to declare war is the most important power of the Congress, and Congress must behave accordingly.

Kaine also noted that he represents the most most militarily connected state in the country. Notably, his predecessor in the Senate, Sen. Jim Webb, had taken a similar stance, championing a resolution insisting that the Congress, not the President, make the decision on war—that time in the case of Syria.