Lawmakers urge Trump to engage Congress on Syria

Lawmakers urge Trump to engage Congress on Syria
© Greg Nash

Several Democratic lawmakers on Thursday urged caution after President Trump shot more than 50 Tomahawk missiles at an airfield in Syria.

A number of Democrats called on Trump to ask for congressional authority to use military action in Syria. 

They were joined by some Republicans, while others in the GOP asked for Trump to engage with Congress. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam SchiffHouse briefed on anti-ISIS campaign progress The Hill's 12:30 Report Schiff: Trump's undisclosed talk with Putin 'deeply troubling' MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, warned that military strikes alone will not unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom officials say used chemical weapons on Syrian citizens earlier this week.

"I fully concur that the regime has to go, because as long as Assad is there that fighting is going to go on, that terrible war is going to go on," Schiff said in comments on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC. "But this is not something that can be accomplished via the air at a standoff location."

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerLawmakers send McCain well wishes after cancer diagnosis OPINION | GOP's 7-year ObamaCare blood oath ends in failure Dems tout failure of GOP healthcare bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader nancy Pelosi also offered measured support.

“Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do," Schumer said in a statement. 

“It is incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it. I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today.”

Pelosi said "The crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes."

“Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons.  If the President intends to escalate the U.S. military’s involvement in Syria, he must to come to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force which is tailored to meet the threat and prevent another open-ended war in the Middle East," she said. 

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a progressive Democrat who was the only member of Congress to oppose military action in Afghanistan, said Trump should have requested approval for the actions from Congress.

"This is an act of war. Congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility," Lee wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) warned that such attacks could put U.S. troops already stationed in Syria at risk of retaliation from the country's authoritarian government.

"Trump sent US ground troops to Syria last month purportedly to fight [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]. Now our troops are at risk of being attacked by #Assad forces," Lieu wrote on Twitter.

Some Republicans also raised concerns about the lack of congressional approval.

Those voices included Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulSenate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement Fox News personality: GOP healthcare plan says ‘ideology is less important than victory' MORE (R-Ky.), a frequent critic of U.S. military engagement. 

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was more blunt in his criticism. He quoted a 2013 tweet from Trump himself arguing that that former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Regulation: Trump administration reveals first regulatory agenda | GOP lawmakers introduce measures to repeal arbitration rule | Exxon gets M fine for sanctions violation Mounting nationwide immigration enforcement costs 20 attorneys general urge DeVos to keep college sexual assault protections MORE "must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria."

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: CBO's healthcare estimate is 'bogus' Kushner speech to congressional interns delayed Overnight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M sanctions fine MORE (R-Wis.) issued a statement offering general support for Trump's actions, though he also said he looked forward to Trump engaging with Congress on Syria. 

"This action was appropriate and just," Ryan said. "I look forward to the administration further engaging Congress in this effort."