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 SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? Trump takes aim at Dem talk of impeachment Dems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller 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 SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference 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 PaulBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen Bottom line 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 ObamaJuan Williams: Buttigieg already making history Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Trump hits Romney for Mueller criticism MORE "must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria."

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday 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."