In an immediate reaction to America’s airstrikes on several targets in Syria, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized President Donald Trump for failing to obtain congressional authorization before taking the military action.
On Friday night, Trump announced that Washington in a coordinated attack with the United Kingdom and France had launched “precision strikes” on targets in Syria. The airstrikes were launched in response to what they claim to be a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.
The West blames the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical attack. Damascus has consistently denied the allegation.
Just hours before the attack on Syria, 87 members of Congress sent a letter to the White House, calling on Trump not to take a military action without congressional authorization. Trump, who had threatened Damascus with a military action earlier this week, thumbed his nose at the request and ordered the airstrikes on Friday.
“President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’ approval is illegal and — absent a broader strategy — it’s reckless,” said Senator Tim Kaine. “Today it’s a strike on Syria — what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?”
Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted Trump for not taking a contemplative approach over Syria, saying, “Last week, President Trump was adamant that the US was leaving Syria imminently. This week, he is opening a new military front.”
So far at least one Republican representative, Thomas Massie, has joined the chorus of Democrats that included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Kaine in criticizing Trump for not consulting the constitution.
Criticizing Trump’s constitutional authority to launch an attack on a foreign country without congressional approval, Massie tweeted, “I haven’t read France’s or Britain’s “Constitution,” but I’ve read ours and nowhere in it is Presidential authority to strike Syria.”
Pelosi said in a statement that Trump “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.”
Senator Bob Casey also tweeted that “the strikes that are being carried out are being done without an authorization from Congress, which is unacceptable.”
In a similar move last year, the president authorized an airstrike against a Syrian target in response to an alleged use of chemical weapons by the government. The attack drew similar criticism from those who pointed to the constitutional requirement of congressional authorization for American to go to war.
Citing congressional aides, The Washington Post reported that several lawmakers, including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan all received phone calls about the strikes from Vice President Mike Pence.