Reality Check: Does Obama have authority to attack ISIS? - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Reality Check: Does Obama have authority to attack ISIS?

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The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to provide funding to arm Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS/ISIL militants. However, when it comes to taking military action against ISIS, President Obama says he doesn't need Congressional approval.

Last week President Obama met with key congressional leaders to outline his strategy for dealing with ISIS. Following that meeting the White House released a statement saying: "The president told the leaders that he has the authority he needs to take action against ISIL."

That authority is Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which names President Obama "Commander-in-Chief" of the military. It's the same article President Bush cited to justify his military action following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Several Republican lawmakers, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, were quick to challenge the President's authority this time around.

"Without question Congress should vote on this ... he is going against the constitution and it will be an unlawful act if he takes military action without having Congress vote on the issue," Paul told FOX News last week.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was just as quick to defend the Commander in Chief.

"I know he does," Pelosi said regarding the President's authority to go after ISIS without Congress. "I've studied this issue for a really long time."

With Paul and Pelosi walking their respective party lines, who's to say who's right and who's wrong?

FOX19 NOW spoke with Presidential Scholar and author Kenneth Mayer, who says that acting without Congress is something Presidents do.

"If you look at the overall scope of what Obama has done is it true that he has pushed the boundaries of executive power? Absolutely, but it's also true that every President does this, George Washington did this"

Xavier University Professor of Political Science Mack Mariani tells FOX19 NOW President Obama can't rely on Congress for much these days, given the dysfunction in Washington.

"The President has been faced with the situation now that he can't accomplish anything…with the inability of democrats and republicans to come together on a mutually agreed upon agenda the president has already been practicing...going out and doing things that he can do without new laws," said Mariani.

The bottom line is this: Interpreting article 2 of the constitution is not a black and white issue. Congress is going to argue over whether President Obama has the authority to attack ISIS, but if history is any guide, the President is going to authorize military action without them.

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