The following are comments from members of Congress and the Senate responding to the President’s decision to order a missile attack on Syria:
U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01)
The Assad regime’s human rights abuses and crimes against humanity cannot go unpunished. Further, Russia and Iran must be held accountable for their support of a murderer who cowardly gasses his own people.
But Americans at home and our soldiers serving overseas deserve a plan. Congress has a constitutional obligation to be engaged and authorize the use of military force. The United States needs to develop a comprehensive and consistent diplomatic strategy with our allies to protect innocent civilians, resolve this complex conflict, and ultimately bring our troops home. I fear the Administration’s erratic statements and mixed messages have only emboldened our enemies and confused our partners.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
With a historically unstable White House it is more important than ever that Congress be consulted on military action, especially when it risks drawing us into war.
The United States together with the international community has a responsibility to deter Bashar al-Assad and every regime watching him from thinking that they can gas their people with impunity, commit genocide, or employ internationally prohibited weapons. However, any military action taken by the U.S. should be limited in scope, have clear objectives and must be authorized by Congress.
It is important to realize that the actions taken by the administration are aimed at a state regime, not a non-state terrorist organization and therefore fall well outside the current authorization for military force. I call on the President to seek Congressional authorization for any further military force.
With a historically unstable White House it is more important than ever that Congress be consulted on military action, especially when it risks drawing us into war. Nearly, every day we see impulsive and temperamental decision-making drive the Trump Administration’s agenda and we cannot risk our national security or disaster abroad by letting this president go it alone.
We must reassert active diplomatic engagement to help solve this complex crisis, and it is critical that we stop ceding leadership on the international stage to our adversaries and work to bring an end to this humanitarian disaster. (U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee).
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
The use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is unacceptable under any circumstances. The Assad regime must be held accountable for its atrocious behavior. The United States and our allies must ensure that we pursue every effort to eliminate Assad’s capacity to conduct chemical warfare. President Trump and his Administration must provide Congress with a clear plan for defeating ISIS and developing a political solution that brings peace to Syria and its’ long-suffering citizens, ensures the rights of Kurdish and moderate Sunni partners in Syria, and guarantees Congress’ future role in debating and authorizing any future military actions against the Syrian regime. The American people, and this Congress, expect a plan from this Administration on how they will achieve these objectives.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
The use of nerve gas is a war crime of immense proportion. And it’s important to note that, according to a 2013 disarmament agreement between the U.S. and Russia, the Assad regime is not supposed to possess chemical weapons in the first place. These atrocities must stop. I support targeted military action against the Syrian regime, as I have in the past, but that does not negate the need for President Trump to come before Congress to fully debate a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to combat the threat in Syria.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
It is Congress, not the president, which has the constitutional responsibility for making war.
It is Congress, not the president, which has the constitutional responsibility for making war. The international community must uphold the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, but it is unclear how President Trump’s illegal and unauthorized strikes on Syria tonight will achieve that goal. After 17 years of war in Afghanistan and 15 years of war in Iraq, we need a political strategy to bring peace and stability to the region, not more U.S. military intervention.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
Bashar al-Assad’s violence against his own people is horrendous, and he must be held to account by the international community for the many thousands of his fellow Syrians he has murdered in chemical and conventional attacks. But President Trump is dangerously escalating the situation by acting with no legal authority and no consistent and thoughtful plan. Today, the president said his action isn’t necessarily over. But just two weeks ago, President Trump announced he wanted to withdraw troops from Syria. This isn’t reality TV — tough talk with no long-term strategy puts the Syrian people, American troops, and our allies in danger. The U.S can’t afford to be dragged deeper into the Syrian civil war, and doing so risks a great power conflict.
President Trump must seek a new authorization from Congress to wage war in Syria. I will continue to push for Congress to debate and pass an AUMF and require the administration to fully explain its strategy, and the cost, impact on American troops, and the parameters of its plans in Syria. Sporadic strikes aren’t in our national security interest and haven’t sent Assad running — they have emboldened him and those who want to prop him up. And, at the same time, we can’t afford endless war in the region. Military action will not solve the conflict in Syria or bring peace to the Middle East; that will require diplomatic engagement in the region and with Assad’s allies, including Russia and Iran.