Boehner, Sen. Levin Support Obama's Declared Airstrikes in Iraq

By Susan Jones | August 8, 2014 | 9:43 AM EDT

President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio before his January 2014 the State of Union address. (AP Photo)

( - "The president’s authorization of airstrikes is appropriate," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Friday.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, agreed: "There are a number of justifications for these actions, but the reasons he cited are surely sufficient," Levin said of Obama's Thursday night announcement that he has ordered military action to protect Americans in Erbil, Iraq.

"When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action," Obama said in his speech to the nation Thursday night. "That's my responsibility as commander in chief."

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says "Congress shall have the declare war." The Constitution gives the president the title of commander in chief, which means he may direct the wars that Congress declares.

Over time, however, those instructions set out by the nation's Founders have been more honored in the breach than the observance.

In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, a controversial law which says the President, "in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities ...and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations."

Ironically, it also states: "Nothing in this joint resolution--(1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President."

Speaker Boehner released the following statement on Friday morning, after the U.S. military launched the first air strikes on ISIS/ISIL terrorists near Erbil, as directed by President Obama:

"The president’s authorization of airstrikes is appropriate, but like many Americans, I am dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region," Boehner said.  

"Vital national interests are at stake, yet the White House has remained disengaged despite warnings from Iraqi leaders, Congress, and even members of its own administration.  Such parochial thinking only emboldens the enemy and squanders the sacrifices Americans have made.  

"The president needs a long-term strategy – one that defines success as completing our mission, not keeping political promises – and he needs to build the support to sustain it.  If the president is willing to put forward such a strategy, I am ready to listen and work with him.  For now, I wish Godspeed to all our men and women participating in these operations."

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also released a statement supporting Obama's actions:

“I support the actions President Obama announced tonight. There are a number of justifications for these actions, but the reasons he cited are surely sufficient. It is helpful that the government of Iraq has requested our assistance, and it would also be helpful under the circumstances, though not necessary, for a number of neighboring countries to publicly support our actions.

“I have urged the administration to provide greater assistance to the Kurds, to assist their defense and to help them resume their protection of Christian villages in their area.”