WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the congressional reaction to U.S. airstrikes in Syria:
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on Congress to immediately return to debate whether to authorize President Donald Trump to take military action against Syria.
Pelosi supports Trump’s missile strike on a Syrian airfield in response to President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons attack against civilians.
But the California Democrat says in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan that “the American people are owed a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives.”
The House departed Thursday for a more than two-week spring break, but Pelosi wants lawmakers to “debate any decision to place our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”
Ryan’s office says he has no plans yet to reconvene the House.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine says President Donald Trump’s decision to retaliate against Syria was not legally justified, although it was right from a moral standpoint.
Kaine tells CNN that Trump should not have ordered military airstrikes in Syria “without coming to Congress” first.
Kaine says the Constitution is very clear in that only Congress declares war. Many legal scholars would disagree that the airstrikes run afoul of the Constitution, noting that a president can act unilaterally in such cases that U.S. troops are at risk.
Kaine is calling on Trump to outline a plan to resolve the Syrian conflict so Congress can debate and vote on it.
Kaine is a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. He also was the Democratic candidate for vice president last year.
Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says President Donald Trump must “be prepared to take other action” in Syria.
In an interview on MSNBC, McCain praised Thursday’s air strikes as a measured approach to chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government that “restores credibility” to the U.S. and gives Trump a chance to “reboot with the American people.” McCain says the Syrian air force must be neutralized and that new demilitarized “safe zones” should be created to address the humanitarian crisis.
Also, McCain says it would help for Trump to stop impulsively tweeting. He says: “I would love to see the tweeting stop. But I’d also like to see pigs fly. … I just think it’s in his DNA. But perhaps there will be more restraint.”
Sen. Marco Rubio says the next step in Syria should be to work with Sunni governments to discuss “an alternative” government in Syria.
Rubio is a Florida Republican and onetime rival of President Donald Trump. The conservative tells NBC’s “Today” show that Trump should reach out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Turkey, to discuss ways to get Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and create a new regime. Assad has not responded to diplomatic pressure in the past, but Rubio says the military strikes could change that.
He says, “We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regime.”