For the third time in three days, Sen. Bob Corker appeared on national television to discuss what he sees as an "imminent" U.S. response to last week's use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Corker, who is ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a guest on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown." Speaking with host Chuck Todd via satellite feed from Chattanooga, the senator and former Chattanooga mayor said that despite his understanding that the Barack Obama administration would act before a reconvening of Congress, he wished lawmakers would be given a more prominent role in authorizing the use of U.S. military force in the conflict.
"Under the War Powers Act, all [the White House is] required to do is consult," Corker said. "And I know this administration has stated they believe the War Powers Act is constitutional, while some administrations have felt otherwise. I did receive a call yesterday from the appropriate person, and I think the White House has confirmed they believe that to be a consultation."
Commenting on remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, Corker said he saw a U.S. strike as "imminent." The senator added his desire for action to be "surgical and proportional," as well as carried out in a way that would not get the U.S. "mired down" in complexities of the 2-year-old civil war, which has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Kerry called the use of chemical weapons a "moral obscenity" on Monday and said the U.S. had "little doubt" that forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been behind the attack. Activists and rebels in the Damascus area have said last week's attack killed as many as 1,000 innocents, the report said.
Corker said he thought the Obama administration would "build a case" for a strike and take steps to declassify information in advance to justify U.S. action to a war-weary public. The senator added his hope that action would not be similar to U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011, which led him to repeatedly call on the White House to give a "compelling rationale" for assisting in a lengthy campaign against former Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi without seeking authorization from Congress.
Still, Corker acknowledged his conclusion that lawmakers would not be offered the chance to formally weigh in on the scope of American involvement in Syria before they return to Washington at the end of this month after a monthlong recess.
"I wish they would bring us back," he said. "I wish Congress would get involved on the front end. I think it's responsible, [but] it's not going to happen, I agree."
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