Push-back from Congress on US meddling in Venezuela

The Hill is reporting that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) has released a statement in opposition to US intervention in Venezuela: “I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option.”

Likewise, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, strongly opposes US military intervention on behalf of Venezuela opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó. Khanna tweeted, “Mr. Guaido, you can proclaim yourself leader of Venezuela but you don’t get to authorize US military interventions. Only the US Congress can do that. We will not.”

Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has tweeted, “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders–so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.” See also this.

But Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris have been wishy-washy about opposing a coup in Venezuela.

The question is: will Congress stand up to the Administration and stop wars and proxy wars initiated by the executive branch. According to the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11),  Congress has the power to declare war:

[The Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

In 1973 Congress passed The War Powers Resolution (also known as the War Powers Resolution of 1973 or the War Powers Act) (50 U.S.C. 1541–1548), which is

intended to check the president’s power to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of the U.S. Congress. The Resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution. It provides that the U.S. President can send U.S. Armed Forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” (source)

But over the years, Congress has ceded more and more war-making power to the executive branch and has allowed interventions, proxy wars, and clone attacks, partly based on the Authorization of Military Force resolution that was signed on Sept 18, 2001, just one week after the 9/11 attacks. The resolution has been used as a broad justification for military intervention in the name of fighting terrorism. “Unlike past war resolutions, which were normally marked up in committee and then debated on the House and Senate floors, the 2001 AUMF was introduced, voted on, and passed by Congress on the same exact day…. Fifteen years later, the executive branch has used the AUMF as statutory authority to wage war on terrorist groups that didn’t even exist in 2001. It has become a catch-all for practically everything that the United States does in the war on terrorism.” (ibid)

Will other members of Congress, including Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, stand up for Congress’s duties under the Constitution and help stop the endless wars and meddling that have cost the U.S. and the world dearly in lives and money?

As I learn of additional lawmakers who have expressed opposition to U.S. meddling in Venezuela, I will update this article.

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