WASHINGTON — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul accused the administration on Tuesday of “making a joke” of Congress by asking for approval for a strike on Syria, with the understanding that he could very well go ahead and take unilateral action if it votes not to authorize use of force.
Addressing Secretary of State John Kerry at a hearing of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Paul said that he felt that President Barack Obama and the administration had all but promised to disregard a vote from congress that did not authorize strikes on Syria.
“I want to be proud of the president. … Make me proud today, Sec. Kerry, stand up for us and say ‘we’re going obey the constitution,’ and if we vote you down, which is unlikely” that the administration “wouldn’t go forward with strikes.”
Kerry said that he did not know what Obama would do if congress did not vote to authorize a strike on Syria, but said that if he did opt to ignore the vote and take action anyway, it “would be in keeping with the constitution.”
“If we do not say explicitly that we will abide by this vote, you’re making a joke of us, you’re making us into theater … if this is real you will abide by the verdict of Congress. You’re probably going to win, so just go ahead and say it’s real,” Paul said.
Kerry previously said that Obama was not “asking for America to go to war,” but rather for a very specific and limited action, but Paul made clear he disagreed with that.
“I don’t believe he has the constitutional authority … This power is a congressional power and it is not an executive power,” Paul said. “They didn’t say big war, small war, they didn’t say boots on the ground or not boots on the ground, they said declare war.”
“Ask the people on the ships launching the missiles whether they’re involved in war or not,” Paul said.