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 ShaheenMeghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation Lewandowski 'very, very close to announcing' decision on Senate run 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 KaineSen. Kaine: No reason for US to 'engage in military action to protect Saudi oil' Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine 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 SchiffTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Schiff says Trump intel chief won't comply with subpoena over whistleblower Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate 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.