Reaction split mostly along party lines to President Donald Trump's announcement that the U.S. had launched a "precision strike" on Syria Friday night in response to an alleged reported chemical weapons attack last weekend.
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Vice President Mike Pence, who is traveling in Peru this week, called congressional leaders on a secure line to inform them about the strikes beforehand, according to press pool reports. Pence spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He could not reach Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at first but spoke with him later, according to reporters traveling with the vice president.
Members of Congress took to Twitter to react, with top Democrats giving limited support.
A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 14, 2018
The latest chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people was a brutally inhuman war crime. Yet one night of airstrikes is no substitute for a coherent strategy.— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) April 14, 2018
Some lawmakers, mostly Republicans, unreservedly praised the president's action, saying there needed to be a strong response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.
HATCH on @POTUS’s Syria retaliation:
“The response, deliberated meticulously with international partners and carried out with their backing and participation, reflects the President’s commitment to restoring America’s leadership in bringing Assad and his backers to justice..” pic.twitter.com/AHMCGhXyZv— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) April 14, 2018
The barbarism from the Assad regime will not be tolerated. America and its allies are together to deliver the consequences from such heinous action. God bless our men and women in uniform.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 14, 2018
I strongly support @POTUS’s decision to work with our UK and French allies to respond decisively to the Syrian regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons against innocent men, women and children.— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) April 14, 2018
I support the attack because Assad must be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons.— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) April 14, 2018
Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack against his own people merited a strong international response — these attacks must not be tolerated. However morally justified, the strikes risk serious escalation. Absent congressional authorization, they are also on thin legal ground.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 14, 2018
Five years later, I'm glad we have a president who took my & Mike Pompeo's advice. https://t.co/0u8FxZS7RP— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 14, 2018
Lawmakers from both parties said the decision could be on shaky legal ground because the current legislation that gives the president the authority to use military force without approval from Congress has not been updated since 2001.
After the strike against Syria in 2017 some lawmakers said that under that document, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, the president had the authority to launch a limited strike without going to Congress. But other experts say that more long-term involvement in Syria would require Congressional approval.
While Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable for his unlawful use of chemical weapons against civilians, the strikes that are being carried out are being done without an authorization from Congress, which is unacceptable— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) April 14, 2018
Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against Syria without Congress’s approval is illegal. We need to stop giving presidents a blank check to wage war. Today it’s Syria, but what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) April 14, 2018
I haven’t read France’s or Britain’s “Constitution,” but I’ve read ours and no where in it is Presidential authority to strike Syria.— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 14, 2018
These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless. The next speaker of the House must reclaim congressional war powers as prescribed in Article I of the Constitution. @SpeakerRyan has completely abdicated one of his most important responsibilities.— Justin Amash (@justinamash) April 14, 2018
Another criticism of the attack from lawmakers was the lack of a long-term strategy for the U.S. in Syria. Some even pointed out that Trump tweeted last week about taking all U.S. troops out of the country.
In announcing the attack Trump said the U.S. was prepared "to sustain a response" until the Syrian regime ends its use of chemical weapons, but also said that America does not plan to stay in the country indefinitely.
All Americans, but especially our troops on the ground, should be asking what our strategy is in Syria. Why will this strike work when Trump’s last one failed? When will @POTUS make up his mind about leaving or staying? How does this end...? https://t.co/xSUdTSwHR9— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) April 14, 2018
Yesterday I reminded Sec Mattis that, in Iraq, he gave us a clear mission and told us what we needed to accomplish to go home. Then I asked about Syria, and he said the troops can go home when they defeat ISIS.
So what part of that strategy is this?— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) April 14, 2018
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