In the wake of reports that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Monday that he hoped the Obama administration would come to Congress to authorize airstrikes in Syria but that such authorization was not necessary to conduct the strikes.
"They do not need an authorization but I do hope they will come for one," Corker, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "If you look at foreign policy over the last long period of time, Congress has gotten a pass on all of these issues and the debate in Washington to me can be almost sophomoric and silly because we're not taking ownership over these decisions."
The White House is weighing options for intervening in the civil war that has lasted over two years and killed more than 100,000, according to the most recent UN estimate. Corker also appeared Monday on NBC's "Today" show and said he thought the U.S. would take action.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Congress should be involved in any potential strike but "perhaps not initially." "We've got to move, and we've got to move quickly," he said.
A White House official told Roll Call this weekend that the White House will "consult" with Congress in the event of a strike.
The Obama administration did not seek congressional authorization when it joined in airstrikes against Libya, leading to criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Reps. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), among others, have said that the Obama administration must come before Congress to authorize a strike in Syria.
Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973 requiring an authorization for the use of armed forces for beyond 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension. However, President Bill Clinton did not seek authorization when striking Kosovo in 1999 -- a conflict that the Obama administration sees as precedent for a potential strike in Syria, according to The New York Times.
United Nations chemical weapons inspectors were shot at by unidentified snipers Monday as they attempted to reach a site of a possible poison gas attack. A senior administration official told the Associated Press that there was "very little doubt" that Assad used chemical weapons.