Neither Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, or Mike Lee of Utah have been fans of President Barack Obama's handling of foreign policy during his eight years in office. Obama has often had a habit of sidestepping congress and issuing executive orders to to take military actions overseas.
So both senators decided to get proactive, and advise President-elect Donald Trump ahead of time via a letter to follow the prescribed methods of taking military action as outlined by the Constitution of the United States.
While members of Congress have disagreements on many domestic and foreign policies, we all agree that the most fundamental duty of the federal government is to protect the safety, security, and freedoms of the American people. The constitutional powers to carry out this duty are shared between the President and Congress so that our military and diplomatic policies are informed by a long-term vision of American interests – forged through the kind of open debate and patient deliberation that is the province of Congress – while remaining flexible enough to respond to threats as they appear.
Paul and Lee go on to outline that any further action that occurs in the Middle East and North Africa should only occur with the approval of Congress, as the Constitution outlines. This includes the creation of no fly, no drive, and humanitarian zones that would utilize elements of the U.S. military in any way in order to execute the action.
The senators also made it clear that they are not saying that the U.S. should ignore or condone the events happening in places like the Middle-East, but that actions pertaining to them should only occur after much debate and deliberation from congress. Unlike his predecessor, Trump should not appoint himself a one man decision maker about how our military should act, and instead rely on the consensus and permission of Congress.
The complexity of the security questions we face as a nation calls for robust debate, prudence and cooperation. The challenges are too great and the risks too high to simply defer to yesterday’s status quo. Now is the time for bold leadership and sober judgment. You have the opportunity at the beginning of your presidency to help recommit the Executive Branch to preserving this constitutional balance that has always defined our government at its best, and we stand ready to work with your administration toward that end.
Read the entire letter here.
Paul himself has been very vocal about his thoughts about how the incoming administration should handle foreign policy. At some points, he even lead media campaigns against some of Trump's picks for secretary of state, especially John Bolton, calling him "a menace." However, he seems to be relatively pleased with the president-elect's final pick for the position, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, after Tillerson acknowledged that the Iraq war was a mistake.