U.S. President Donald Trump will not find things easy for now as Congressional Democrats have attacked him for not seeking Congress authorisation before striking Syria on Friday.
While the Democrats call the strikes “unconstitutional” and questioning the strategy, many Republicans, applauded the president’s move.
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, who has pushed Congress to pass a new authorisation for the use of military force, deemed the president’s action “illegal” because he proceeded without approval from lawmakers.
“President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and — absent a broader strategy — it’s reckless,” Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, said in a statement.
“Today, it’s a strike on Syria — what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next? The last thing Congress should be doing is giving this president a blank check to wage war against anyone, anywhere.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat representing San Francisco, California, said in a statement that the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack was a “brutally inhumane war crime that demands a strong, smart and calculated response.” However, she said Trump must present a more comprehensive strategy on Syria to Congress and seek lawmakers’ approval.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, also representing part of California, tweeted that it was the same as when Trump struck Syria last year without congressional approval.
“What changed? Zero,” Swalwell tweeted. “They’re still using chemical weapons. This is the result of a failure to have a strategy and engage Middle East countries to solve this problem.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, from New York, said “A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.”
The president announced in an address to the nation from the White House that U.S. airstrikes, in tandem with the United Kingdom and France, were underway in Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus last weekend.
At a later Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the president had the authority to launch the strikes under Article II of the Constitution because Mattis said Trump was defending U.S. interests.
Key Republicans on Capitol Hill said Friday night that they supported Trump’s decision.
“The United States has taken decisive action in coordination with our allies,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican representing Wisconsin.
Ryan had said at his weekly news conference Thursday that he believed that Trump had authority to act against Syria with any new congressional approval.
“We are united in our resolve that Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons cannot go unanswered. His regime’s unconscionable brutality against innocent civilians cannot be tolerated.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator from Kentucky, said he supports “both the action and the objective.”
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican Senator who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “I applaud the president for taking military action against the Assad regime for its latest use of chemical weapons, and for signaling his resolve to do so again if these heinous attacks continue.”
Of note was Florida Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, who faces a tough re-election fight against Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and who backed Trump’s response to Syria, tweeting, “I support the attack because Assad must be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons.”