Expanded Syria strikes divide Democrats

Democrats are split over the expansion of U.S. airstrikes in Syria this week, with some issuing strong statements of support and others saying the president should be seeking congressional approval.

The schism between those who say the president does need authorization from Congress and those who say he does not highlights a disunity that party leaders hoped to avoid before the midterm elections in November.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCrucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research Overnight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment MORE (D-N.H.), who is in a tough reelection fight, issued a strong statement in support of President Obama's airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syrian (ISIS) on Tuesday.

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"Striking ISIL targets in Syria sends the clear message that the United States and its allies will take the fight to these terrorists wherever they are," she said, using another name for the group.

"I have supported and will continue to support aggressive action to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and I am encouraged that the United States was joined in this mission by Middle East partner nations," she said.

Her Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, released an attack ad Tuesday saying Shaheen seemed confused about the nature of the threat.

Several other Democrats issued unqualified statements of support for Obama's decision to strike in Syria.

“I strongly support the launch of military airstrikes against ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

"I applaud the President's decision to take military action against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria," Rep. Eliot Engel (N.J.), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

Other Democrats, however, fear another endless war in Iraq and called for the president to seek congressional authority for his expanded air war into Syria and the continuing one in Iraq.

“If we’re going to engage this mission, we got to do it right or not do it. And if we don’t get Congress on board with it, we aren’t doing it right,” Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTrump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing Acosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' MORE (D-Va.) said during a speech at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

"The American people deserve a public debate on all the options to dismantle ISIS, including their costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

And Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJudge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify MORE (D-Calif.) called for members of Congress to vote on authorizing the use of military force against ISIS when lawmakers return in November.

"This significant escalation of the military effort makes it all the more imperative for Congress to take up a new authorization to use force," he said in a statement.

"Congress should never have recessed with a war underway — we should take up this issue the moment we return to session," he said.