Kirk said if Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSpecial counsel investigators pushing Manafort for cooperation: report Trump's forgotten man and woman — still forgotten Sanders keeping door open on 2020 MORE agrees to slacken the rules of engagement when the State Department reviews America's role in the battle against piracy later this year, she would empower the U.S. to act in the tradition of President Thomas Jefferson, who battled piracy off the coast of Libya in the beginning of the 19th century.

"Of course this would … be in the tradition of the Jefferson administration that so ably handled this threat when it emerged," said Kirk. "In the coming review with Secretary of State Clinton, I hope she adopts a more Jeffersonian policy."

Kirk spoke in response to a successfully military action the U.S. Navy made against pirates over the weekend.

The USS Stephen W. Groves encountered a pirate mother ship, a captured Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Jim Chun Tsai. The pirates aboard exchanged fire with the Groves. Three pirates were killed, and 19 were captured.