Congress Reacts to Syria Airstrikes
Congressional hawks are cheering the multifaceted overnight airstrikes in Syria that included attacks on Islamic State insurgents and an al Qaida offshoot called the Khorasan Group, while others are lamenting Congress’ decision to duck a war authorization vote.
“Our men and women in uniform are once again striking an enemy that threatens our freedom,” said House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. “This is one step in what will be a long fight against ISIL. With strong coalition partners, a capable military, and a clear mission; it is a fight we can win.”
The Islamic State is also known as ISIL or ISIS.
“It is especially significant — indeed historic — that these strikes involve forces from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich. “The visible, public involvement of Arab and Muslim nations is crucial to long-term success against ISIS. While Western military force can help combat the poisonous ideology of groups such as ISIS, ultimately it is up to Muslim nations to resist and eliminate this poison.”
Other lawmakers said the strikes should have been authorized by Congress, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.
A new “Authorization for Use of Military Force” is sorely needed. I would support returning to Washington to debate and vote on a new AUMF.
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) September 23, 2014
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on MSNBC reiterated his push for Congress to act, but said he doesn’t expect Congress to return until after the elections.
So far, any opposition in Congress has been muted.
“To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria,” said Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of House Homeland Security, in a statement.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of California called the strikes “long overdue.”
“While this initial attack will be a big psychological blow to the terrorist group, an air campaign will need to be major and sustained,” he said.
President Obama is scheduled to speak about the strikes in an address from the White House before he heads to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
The simultaneous strikes against the Khorasan Group, meanwhile, were taken to disrupt an “imminent attack.”
“The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa’ida veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations,” Central Command said in a statement this morning.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Syrian regime was informed of the intent to strike by Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
“We warned Syria not to engage U.S. aircraft. We did not request the regime’s permission. We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government. We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets,” she said.
John Donnelly contributed to this report.
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