Republican, Democratic lawmakers call strike against Syria unconstitutional

Sen. Rand Paul.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), are calling for Congress to vote on authorizing any future military operations in Syria.

"While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked," Paul said on Twitter. "The president needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different." Kaine called it "unconstitutional" for Trump to wage military action without a vote of Congress. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a "brutal dictator who must be held account for atrocities," he said, but Trump's "failure to seek Congressional approval is unlawful."

Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, called airstrikes an "act of war," adding that the "atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from [the] Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war." The framers of the Constitution "divided war powers to prevent abuse," he continued. "Congress to declare war; president to conduct war and repel sudden attacks."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

There was support on both sides of the aisle for the strike ordered by President Trump Thursday night, targeting an airfield near Homs, Syria. The Pentagon said the planes that were used to drop chemical weapons on Idlib, Syria, on Tuesday took off from the airfield, which was hit by 59 Tomahawk missiles. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a joint statement saluting the "skill and professionalism of the U.S. Armed Forces who carried out" the strike, adding, "they have sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said "making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do," while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the strike "appears to be a proportional response to the regime's use of chemical weapons." Schumer also told the Trump administration it must "come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.