McConnell: New war bill not needed for Trump's Syria strikes
© Greg Nash
The Trump administration didn't need to seek congressional approval for military strikes targeting Syrian government forces, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 6B defense bill Poll: Kim Jong Un has higher approval among Republicans than Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix MORE (R-Ky.) said Friday.
 
"I think that this is not a situation that requires an AUMF, authorization for the use of military force," McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
 
He added that he believed a 2001 authorization passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that year and a 2002 authorization for the Iraq War covered the strikes. 
 
"We passed one back in 2001 and 2002, I believe, and the previous president thought that it authorized what we were doing in that part of the world, and I expect this president thinks the same," he said. 
 
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The United States launched missile strikes Thursday night targeting Shayrat Air Base near the city of Homs in retaliation for a chemical attack this week, which U.S. and other Western officials have attributed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.S. strikes killed at least seven.
 
McConnell later told reporters that he was open to a new AUMF if Trump thinks he needs it. 
  
"If the president can think of some AUMF that strengthens his hand, I’d be happy to take a look at it," he said during a press conference.
 
McConnell told Hewitt that he supported "totally" what the Trump administration did, predicting that it would be "widely applauded" by allies in the Middle East. 
 
"I think what the president did with the strike in Syria, ironically, is going to be reassuring to an awful lot of people, both here at home and around the world, that America is back in terms of being the world’s leader," he said.
 
Lawmakers in both parties have been largely supportive of the strikes but have urged the Trump administration to consult more closely with Congress on any next steps in Syria. The administration is expected to meet with senators in a closed-door briefing later Friday.
 
McConnell said Friday from the Senate floor that he will continue to work with the administration to develop a strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and establish "objectives for dealing with the Assad regime in a manner that preserves the institutions of government in an effort to prevent a failed state."
 
Lawmakers in both parties have generally offered support for the strikes, though a number have chided Trump for not seeking congressional approval. 
 
"The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution," Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Ky.) tweeted on Thursday night. 
 
Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineKoch brothers group won't back Stewart in Virginia Kaine shares photos of child detention facility: ‘The real Trump Hotel’ GOP senator: Family separation policy 'inconsistent' with American values MORE (D-Va.), a long-time advocate for passing a new war bill, added that "Congress will work with the President, but his failure to seek Congressional approval is unlawful.”
 
Kaine is currently working with senators in both parties — including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril McCain calls on Trump to rescind family separation policy: It's 'an affront to the decency of the American people' Senate passes 6B defense bill MORE (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee — to draft a new war bill. 
 
But senators have been stalemated for years over war bill specific to Iraq and Syria amid myriad political and policy divisions.