While the United States Constitution says authority over declaring and funding war resides in the Congress, US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner refuses to allow a House vote regarding congressional authorization of the war on ISIS. Boehner says he disagrees with how President Barack Obama is pursuing the war. Boehner also says the House should vote on the war. But instead of calling a vote on the war — something Boehner could have done any time during the war’s escalation — Boehner just waits for the president to present him with a resolution that Boehner, like a diligent servant, promises to promptly put on the House floor for a vote.
Does Boehner not understand that he is the elected leader of one of two bodies of the legislative branch in which constitutionally the war declaration and war funding powers reside?
Has Boehner failed to hear any of his fellow House members’ appeals to him throughout the escalation of US military action against ISIS that the House should debate and vote the war up or down?
It seems incredibly unlikely that Boehner is so ignorant of the authority of the House and himself regarding the US government’s war on ISIS. A more likely explanation of Boehner’s decision to just go along with the president on the matter is that Boehner and other leaders in the House and Senate, who have long supported the war on ISIS, have no intention of taking any action that could in any way restrict Obama’s pursuit of the war.
Boehner’s deference to Obama regarding the war on ISIS is so great that Boehner expressed in an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos aired Sunday that, while Boehner both thinks there should be a vote in the House and disagrees with how Obama is pursuing the war, Boehner will not bring the war issue to the House floor for a vote this year unless Obama presents him with the resolution to be considered. In fact, Boehner, who has refused to let the House vote on the war as it has escalated, says he would even call the House out of recess and back into session for a vote if Obama sends him a resolution authorizing the war.
Boehner sounds nothing like a leader in the branch of the US government charged with authorizing and funding wars in this exchange from the ABC interview:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you’ve said that – assuming you’re speaker next year – you’d want to have a vote on a resolution – why not now?
BOEHNER: I’d be happy to.
The president typically in a situation like this would call for an authorization vote and go sell that to the American people and send a resolution to the Hill. The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions to do what he’s done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don’t agree?
BOEHNER: I think he does have the authority to do it. But the point I’m making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Our reporter Jeff Zeleny has talked to a couple sources on Capitol Hill – said you and other leaders actually warned that if it came up now it would splinter both parties and might not pass.
BOEHNER: I did not suggest that to anybody in my caucus, or to the president for that matter.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So to be clear – if the president put a resolution forward now, you’d call Congress back?
BOEHNER: I’d bring the Congress back.
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