WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders vowed Tuesday to do all they can to restrain President Barack Obama and his “go-it-alone” approach to governing — except when it comes to war.
All six GOP leaders who came to the mic at their weekly news conference decried Obama for ignoring the will of Congress on immigration, environmental regulation, his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison, and other policies.
“The president continues to ignore the law in so many different way,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in opening the briefing, before calling on Obama to forego any sort of executive action to close the prison facility in Cuba.
“This president seems to think that he’s got the authority to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, regardless of the law,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said.
“Quit the unlawful, go-it-alone approach on so many of these issues,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
“It seems the president is still looking for the phone and the pen provision in the Constitution,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), referring to the pledge Obama made early last year to get things done, regardless of what he saw as an obstructionist Congress.
Obama and the administration have since angered the GOP with attempts to use executive orders when the legislatures have not acted on issues such as immigration, wages, equal rights and the environment — all areas where the GOP has been highly critical of his actions and where courts have found Obama’s power debatable.
But in one area where there is no debate — over Congress’ constitutional power to declare war or to end one — Congress has repeatedly declined to restrain the president from going it alone.
Numerous members have argued that the authorization Congress gave Obama in 2002 to attack Al Qaeda has been stretched beyond its limits in the war Obama launched on the Islamic State group more than a year ago.
Yet none of the leaders have insisted on drafting a new resolution that would more clearly authorize the president’s current military actions in Syria and Iraq, even after he offered his own suggestion of a new authorization to use military force.
Asked about whether it was time for Congress to draft a new AUMF, McConnell instead blamed Obama.
“It’s clear the president does not have a strategy in place, so it would be hard to figure out how to authorize a non-strategy. He must feel like he has the authority under existing resolutions that we’ve passed to do what he is doing,” McConnell said.
“I personally would not find it very appealing trying to come up with an authorization for the use of force in this particular way,” he added. “I think that’s one of the reasons most members have been reluctant to suggest that’s a good idea.”
Still, senators as ideologically diverse as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have called for Congress to weigh in.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.