Reaction split mostly along party lines to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. had launched a “precision strike” on Syria Friday night in response to an alleged reported chemical weapons attack last weekend.
Vice President Mike Pence, who is traveling in Peru this week, called congressional leaders on a secure line to inform them about the strikes beforehand, according to press pool reports. Pence spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He could not reach Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at first but spoke with him later, according to reporters traveling with the vice president.
Members of Congress took to Twitter to react, with top Democrats giving limited support.
Some lawmakers, mostly Republicans, unreservedly praised the president’s action, saying there needed to be a strong response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
“The response, deliberated meticulously with international partners and carried out with their backing and participation, reflects the President’s commitment to restoring America’s leadership in bringing Assad and his backers to justice..” pic.twitter.com/AHMCGhXyZv
Lawmakers from both parties said the decision could be on shaky legal ground because the current legislation that gives the president the authority to use military force without approval from Congress has not been updated since 2001.
After the strike against Syria in 2017 some lawmakers said that under that document, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, the president had the authority to launch a limited strike without going to Congress. But other experts say that more long-term involvement in Syria would require Congressional approval.
Another criticism of the attack from lawmakers was the lack of a long-term strategy for the U.S. in Syria. Some even pointed out that Trump tweeted last week about taking all U.S. troops out of the country.
In announcing the attack Trump said the U.S. was prepared “to sustain a response” until the Syrian regime ends its use of chemical weapons, but also said that America does not plan to stay in the country indefinitely.
So what part of that strategy is this?
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