Divided on Strikes, Democrats and Republicans Press for Clearer Syria Strategy

Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mentioned his committee would maintain a listening to within the coming days to look at American coverage within the area. He mentioned he anticipated the Trump administration to start clarifying its views.

“Military force cannot be the only means of responding to these atrocities,” he mentioned.

Democrats, who’ve discovered valuable little floor on which to agree with Mr. Trump, usually supplied narrower reward, with some denouncing the strikes — carried out alongside Britain and France however with out Congress’s assent — as unlawful.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic chief, described “a pinpointed, limited action” as “appropriate” however warned the United States towards being drawn into a bigger battle with the Syrian authorities.

Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the highest Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mentioned he held little hope that the administration would reach deterring Syria from utilizing chemical weapons.

“A year ago, when our military struck targets in Syria in response to another chemical weapons attack, I warned that such an action with no strategy to back it up would fail,” he mentioned. “Tonight’s announcement seems like history repeating, and there’s no reason to expect a different result absent a broader Syria strategy.”

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, who sits on each the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, mentioned that Mr. Trump had severely erred in not in search of Congress’s consent.

“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,” he mentioned.

Mr. Kaine warned that permitting Mr. Trump to strike a overseas energy with out such authorization might present a harmful precedent.

“Today, it’s a strike on Syria — what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?” he mentioned.

At the insistence of Mr. Kaine and others, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is anticipated to start debate this month on a brand new authorization of army power towards terrorist and different extremist teams, together with in Syria. The authorization, generally known as an A.U.M.F., would change a legislation handed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults.

But it might not handle Mr. Assad’s authorities or the potential for a bigger use of power to intervene within the Syrian civil battle.


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic chief, earlier this week. He warned towards the United States being wrapped into a bigger battle with the Syrian regime.

Tom Brenner/The New York Times

A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in questioning the validity of the operation. Representative Thomas Massie, a conservative Republican from Kentucky, quipped on Twitter that he couldn’t recall the Constitution giving the president the authority to strike Syria.

In a press release, Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, warned that “it is vitally important that the Trump administration honors the Constitution by working with Congress on further military action.”

“The United States is not at war with the people of Syria, and I anticipate that the administration will quickly present their long-term intentions to the American people,” he continued.

Still, not all Republicans had reservations. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas and certainly one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters in Congress, gave unqualified approval.

“The Butcher of Damascus learned two lessons tonight the hard way,” he mentioned, referring to Mr. Assad. “Weapons of mass destruction won’t create a military advantage once the United States is done with you, and Russia cannot protect its clients from the United States.”

And Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, urged the administration to behave extra aggressively, fretting, “I fear that when the dust settles this strike will be seen as a weak military response, and Assad will have paid a small price for using chemical weapons yet again.”

“Assad has likely calculated a limited American strike is just the cost of doing business,” he mentioned. “Russia and Iran will view the restricted motion because the United States being content material to drop a couple of bombs earlier than heading for the exits.“

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