Members of Congress were quick to respond to the U.S. military strike against Syria on Thursday night, with politicians on both sides of the aisle offering up varying degrees of support for President Donald Trump’s decision to use around 60 Tomahawk missiles to hit an air base near the city of Homs.
It’s a strike that Trump authorized after a horrific chemical weapons attack inside Syria earlier this week left dozens of Syrian citizens dead — a tragic assault that was widely condemned by humanitarian groups and governments around the globe; the U.S., among other nations, has placed blame on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid his country’s ongoing civil war.
The decision to respond with a military strike ups the ante on U.S. involvement in the conflict and further strains America’s already-hampered relations with Russia, one of Assad’s allies. The quick response from members of Congress shows Democrats and Republicans, alike, offering both support — and apprehension — surrounding the Trump administration’s actions.
House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement calling the airstrike “appropriate and just,” while fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was a bit more concerned about the move, questioning how it benefits America’s interest in light of recent military actions in the Middle East.
This action in Syria was appropriate and just.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/oIlOT65zTC
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) April 7, 2017
“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution,” Paul tweeted on Thursday night. “Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different.”
The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
Others, though, like Republican Sen. Ben Sasse praised the military’s move, saying “American troops met injustice with strength,” and that “the use of chemical weapons cannot become normal.” Sasse also called on Trump to propose to Congress how the U.S. can craft a strategy that helps ease the humanitarian crisis, stabilize the region and protect the U.S.
my statement on military strikes in Syria pic.twitter.com/vpOfUbGOMW
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) April 7, 2017
Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put out a robust joint statement that opened by praising the “skill and professionalism” of the U.S. Armed Forces who carried out the strike, adding that Trump’s actions mark a turning point in which the U.S. has made it clear that the nation won’t stand by as Assad “aided and abetted by Putin’s Russia” kills Syrians.
Perhaps most pointedly, both McCain and Graham — who have often clashed with Trump — drew a distinction between Trump’s actions and those of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, writing, “Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action.”
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) April 7, 2017
Democrats, too, joined in the chorus of responses, with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer saying it is “the right thing to do” to let Assad know that “such despicable atrocities” will come at a cost to him. He, too, called on Trump to craft a strategy.
Please see my statement following the US military strike in Syria: pic.twitter.com/MmiFY1LNxS
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 7, 2017
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois called the airstrikes “a measured response to the Syrian nerve gas atrocity,” though he, too, said any further action inside Syria would require Trump to seek Congressional involvement.
My statement on tonight's U.S. missile strikes in Syria pic.twitter.com/nLcHq6jS01
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) April 7, 2017
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who did not make her statement available on social media platforms on Thursday night, backed the airstrikes as well.
“Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the the regime’s use of chemical weapons,” she said.
But Rep. Barbara Lee of California was a bit less supportive of the move, calling it an “act of war” and saying that Congress must hold a debate, adding, “Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility.”
I was the lone vote against 2001 AUMF. Syria strikes are far beyond the scope of this war authorization. @SpeakerRyan needs to bring a vote.
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) April 7, 2017
See some of the other reactions here.
As for his part, Assad dismissed the act of “aggression” by the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin likewise labeled it an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.”
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