WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers generally applauded President Trump’s decision to launch missiles in a coordinated strike with the United Kingdom and French allies against Syria for a chemical attack the Assad regime inflicted on Syrian citizens last week.
But there was criticism, mainly from Democrats, that the military action should first have been approved — or at least vetted — by Congress. And even key Republicans who applauded the decision said the White House needs to produce a broader plan for U.S. involvement in the region.
“To succeed in the long run, we need a comprehensive strategy for Syria and the entire region,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “The president needs to lay out our goals, not just with regard to ISIS, but also the ongoing conflict in Syria and malign Russian and Iranian influence in the region. Airstrikes disconnected from a broader strategy may be necessary, but they alone will not achieve U.S. objectives in the Middle East.”
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, praised the strike as well but sounded similar concerns.
“Assad’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is unacceptable,” Thornberry said in a statement supporting the attack. “Tough questions about the future of our policy in Syria remain, but those questions should not detract from the justness of tonight’s actions.”
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was more critical. He called Syria leader Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons “abhorrent and a violation of international law.”
But “we need more information to determine the scope and effectiveness of this action,” he said in a statement. “Put simply, the American people need to hear an actual strategy and an actual legal justification. Congress has a constitutional duty and I hope the majority permits appropriate hearings and briefings.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said late Friday that the missile strikes targeted three areas of Syria: a scientific research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs and a storage facility and command post near Homs.
Here’s what other lawmakers said:
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged the administration “to follow up with a real and comprehensive strategy for ending Assad’s threat to his people, to the region and to U.S. security, and for countering Russian and Iranian support for the Syrian dictatorship’s ongoing barbarity.”
In a tweet hours before the strike, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, gave his endorsement