The decision by President Donald Trump to authorize military action along with France and Britain to punish Syria for the use of chemical weapons drew strong bipartisan support as well as opposition from Democrats and Republicans in the Congress, though members of both parties also called for votes in the House and Senate to specifically authorize such action.
“I support the attack because Assad must be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
“It is time for action. Assad must know his inhumane actions WILL NOT be tolerated,” tweeted Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
“We must make it crystal clear that the use of chemical weapons against civilians will not be tolerated,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH).
“Assad must be held accountable for his horrific use of chemical weapons on his own people,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
“Tonight was yet another example of how under President Trump, the United States is once again standing up as the leader of the free world,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” the President said.
But in Congress, there were a number of voices from both parties who bitterly disagreed with the President’s decision, arguing that Mr. Trump should only be able to launch such attacks with the specific approval of the Congress.
“These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).
“Congress, not the president, has the power to authorize military action,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a strong opponent of the use of military force without Congressional support.
“Tonight’s military strikes are neither constitutional nor wise,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
But while the Constitution says that only Congress has the power to declare war, Presidents have routinely launched such attacks without a vote in the House and Senate, and this operation was no different.
“Assad’s killing of innocents with chemicals had to be countered by a multinational response,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
The call for authorization on the use of military force against Syria should be familiar to the President – back in 2013, Mr. Trump said that’s exactly what President Obama should have before taking any action.
It was the second time that Mr. Trump had launched attacks on Syria; the first was almost exactly one year ago, after another use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.