Lawmakers rip Trump for not seeking congressional approval for Syria strikes

Several lawmakers reacted quickly on Friday to President Trump's decision to launch a military strike on Syria by criticizing him for failing to obtain congressional authorization for the move.

At least one GOP representative, Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House adopts historic rules changes to allow remote voting The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House slams media amid disinfectant firestorm MORE (R-Ky.) immediately joined a chorus of Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineBipartisan senators introduce bill to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program Overnight Defense: National Guard chief negative in third coronavirus test | Pentagon IG probing Navy's coronavirus response | Democrats blast use of Russia deterrence funds on border wall Overnight Defense: Navy secretary nominee: Service in 'rough waters' after 'failure of leadership'| Senate fails to override Trump's Iran war powers veto| Top Armed Services Republican expects to address Pentagon border wall funds in defense policy bill MORE (D-Va.), in blasting Trump for not consulting the constitution. 

"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," Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyHillicon Valley: Uber to lay off thousands of employees | Facebook content moderation board announces members | Lawmakers introduce bill to cut down online child exploitation Democrats introduce legislation to protect children from online exploitation Senators urge Pompeo, Perdue to back global food programs amid coronavirus pandemic MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) tweeted, in one of the first reactions to Trump's announcement.

"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," said Massie.

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The reactions started minutes after Trump announced in a nationally televised address that the U.S., in concert with the United Kingdom and France, had launched "precision strikes" on targets in Syria. 

The strikes come in response to an alleged chemical weapons strike in the Damascus suburb of Douma over the weekend that left dozens dead. American officials have blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for carrying out the attack.

Pelosi said Friday that "one night of airstrikes" would not address longer-term issues in Syria, and demanded that Trump propose a comprehensive strategy for U.S. involvement in the war-torn country. 

"The President must come to Congress and secure an Authorization for Use of Military Force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that keep our military safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians," Pelosi said in a statement.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has ardently pushed for Trump to seek Congress's approval for military action, called the strike on Syria "illegal" and "reckless." He also accused Trump of "opening up a new military front."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and – absent a broader strategy – it’s reckless," Kaine said in a statement. "Last week, President Trump was adamant that the U.S. was leaving Syria imminently. This week, he is opening a new military front."

Trump last year also authorized an airstrike against a Syrian target in response to the use of chemical weapons, in a move that earned similar criticism from those who pointed to the constitutional requirement of congressional authorization for the U.S. to go to war. 

Trump announced on Monday that he was weighing a response to the alleged chemical attack. That also prompted calls from several lawmakers for the president to first seek congressional authorization for any military action taken against Syria.

Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, have denied that Assad's government used chemical weapons. Moscow accused the U.K. on Friday of fabricating the chemical strike in Douma, an allegation that Britain dismissed as a "blatant lie."

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Debruyne Says Global Response Platform Needed; Navarro Saw It Coming Asian American lawmaker warns of fear of racism over coronavirus stigma Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) also hit the president on Friday for not seeking congressional approval for the attack, saying that carrying out a sustained campaign without doing so violates the Constitution.

“ 'Sustained response' = war. And that requires the authorization of Congress - unless you don’t believe in the Constitution," Moulton tweeted.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Remote working takes off for Twitter, Facebook, tech companies Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Calif.) also demanded that Trump seek approval from Congress for further military action.

"This strike is unconstitutional and is a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Syria," he tweeted. "The American people deserve a vote on whether we go to war with Syria, and potentially Russia and Iran."

— Updated 10 p.m.