At the 43rd annual Buena Vista Labor Fest on September 2, U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, answered questions about the topic that is on every American's mind this week: Can the Obama administration receive congressional authorization to go to war in Syria?
“Mark me down as skeptical,” Goodlatte said in an exclusive interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, even as he gave credit to President Barack Obama for asking for advance approval by Congress before embarking on another military mission in the Middle East.
'A lot of questions'
Among his colleagues in Congress, Goodlatte said, there are “a lot of questions and a lot of skepticism about what the President wants to do.”
To allay congressional concerns, he continued, President Obama “needs to spell out to us, specifically” what he plans to do in Syria.
“We will go back to Washington when he has that [plan] available and we'll listen to that. We'll have a debate, but I have a lot of questions about whether the president has a plan, whether a plan could work, whether we could accomplish the goals of such a plan, and how we would extract ourselves.”
Those questions are what led Goodlatte to say people should “mark me down as skeptical.”
He explained that the role of the President as Commander-in-Chief includes “having to listen” to Congress.
Obama, he said, “didn't seem headed that way at first" and was reluctant to go to Congress before using military force against the Assad regime in Syria.
It is “important,” Goodlatte added, that the President “not just consult the Congress but seek the Congress's approval before he takes his action. He did not do that in Libya so it is a step in the right direction that he is going to do that here with the Congress in this circumstance” regarding Syria.
Reminded that the British House of Commons voted last month to deny Prime Minister David Cameron authority to intervene in Syria, Goodlatte said that the U.S. Congress “will be looking at that debate and asking the same questions” as their counterparts in Westminster.
Bob Goodlatte has represented Virginia's sixth congressional district since 1993. He chaired the House Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2007 and succeeded Lamar Smith as Judiciary Committee chair in January of this year.