The Biden administration continues to signal that it has no intention to involve United States forces in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Yet, as the threat of a European war escalates rapidly, so too does the risk of a chaotic turn of events that could make the dispute into much more than a fight between Russia and its embattled neighbor. Now, more than ever, said Erik Sperling, the executive director of the anti-war group Just Foreign Policy, it is vital for Congress to reaffirm its authority over any decisions regarding military action in the region.
“While the Biden administration has ruled out sending additional troops, even allowing US advisers and special forces to remain in harm’s way in Ukraine without authorization creates the potential for direct conflict between the world’s leading nuclear powers,” argued Sperling. “Regardless of one’s view on how the US should respond to tensions over Ukraine, these are precisely the critical questions that the framers of our Constitution sought to entrust to the American people through their representatives in Congress.”
Sparrow’s right. And a bipartisan group of more than 40 House members has written this week to the White House with an urgent reminder that the President needs to receive authorization from Congress before involving US armed forces in the conflict. Organized by Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who currently chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Ohio Republican Warren Davidson, a West Point graduate who is a leading member of the hardline-conservative House Freedom Caucus, the letter reads:
We strongly urge your administration to respect the separation of powers, US law, and Congress’s constitutional war powers authority. Should your administration seek to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or decline to remove any US military personnel currently deployed inside Ukraine from unauthorized hostilities or imminent hostilities, Congress stands ready to deliberate over the potentially monumental implications of such scenarios. The American people, through their representatives in Congress, deserve to have a say before US troops are placed in harm’s way or the US becomes involved in yet another foreign conflict.
Although the list of 43 signers does not include top congressional leadership from the two parties, those involved represent a significant cross section of House members, including Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), former CPC co-chairs Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and “Squad” members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.). Representative Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who has been a stalwart foe of US military adventureism for decades, is also a signer, as are several Republicans who have consistent records of joining bipartisan initiatives to constrain authorizations of the use of military force, including Kentuckian Thomas Massie and Freedom Caucus chaired by Andy Biggs of Arizona.