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 Massie (R-Ky.) immediately joined a chorus of Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (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 Casey 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.
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
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) April 13, 2018
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.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 13, 2018
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 Trump’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 Moulton (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.
“Sustained response” = war. And that requires the authorization of Congress – unless you don’t believe in the Constitution. https://t.co/5jKuoPlKl9
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) April 13, 2018
Rep. Ro Khanna (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.”
This strike is unconstitutional and is a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Syria. The American people deserve a vote on whether we go to war with Syria, and potentially Russia and Iran.
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 14, 2018
— Updated 10 p.m.