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 Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Rubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility MSNBC’s Ruhle fires back at ‘Fox & Friends’ over ‘propaganda’ about migrant children 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 (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer calls for Trump administration to appoint 'czar' to oversee family reunification Donald Trump Jr. headlines Montana Republican convention Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs 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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senators call for probe of federal grants on climate change Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments US watchdog: 'We failed' to stem Afghan opium production 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 Hussein ObamaDemocrats cannot afford to play hardball on immigration reform Trump's tariffs are a case of crony capitalism Obama to visit Kenya, South Africa for Obama Foundation in July MORE "must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria."

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDOJ delivers Russia probe documents to Congress Laura Ingraham: George Will is ‘sad and petty’ for urging votes against GOP Seth Rogen: I told Paul Ryan I hate his policies in front of his kids 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."