Republican Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) was the only Iowan among 88 U.S. House members who “strongly” urged President Donald Trump “to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering additional use of U.S. military force in Syria.” Trump ordered missile strikes on three sites in Syria within hours of receiving the April 13 letter.
We write to you as a bipartisan group of colleagues with a shared concern, as we did with the prior administration in 2013, and again in a letter to you last May. We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering additional use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate–and the active engagement of Congress–prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.
We stand ready to consider the facts before us and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.
Click here to view the full list of Democrats and Republicans who signed. It’s disappointing that nearly fourth-fifths of U.S. House members are willing to cede their authority to decide when the country goes to war.
I haven’t seen any public statements from Iowa’s other representatives on the latest military action in Syria or on Trump’s decision to act without consulting Congress. I will update this post as needed with reaction from Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) or Republicans David Young (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04). CORRECTION: Although Young didn’t issue a press release on April 13, he posted on Twitter, “President Trump, as Commander in Chief, issued a much needed strong, swift, and targeted response. Our allies, the UK and France, should be commended on joining us to fight evil and show we cannot tolerate atrocities against the innocent and the use of chemical weapons.”
When House members sent a similar bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama in 2013, Representatives Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) and Tom Latham (R, IA-03) were the only Iowans to sign. King and Loebsack chose not to ask Obama to seek legislative authorization for further military action in Syria; Young and Blum were not serving in Congress at that time.
UPDATE: Senator Joni Ernst strongly supported the president’s action in this statement. She wasn’t in Congress when Obama took similar action in 2013.
“Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal, and he will be held accountable for his actions.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a combat veteran, issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s decision to strike against Syria following Syria’s use of chemical weapons:
“Tonight, the United States and our allies executed a strong and unified response to the Assad regime’s recent attacks, making clear that their horrific crimes and use of chemical weapons against their own people will not be tolerated. The evidence produced is indisputable: Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal, and he will be held accountable for his actions.
“Russia and Iran are complicit in these chemical weapons attacks on innocent populations. The Trump administration has shown decisive and precise global leadership. We must remain unified with our allies to put a stop to these continued attacks on the Syrian people once and for all.”
Senator Chuck Grassley has not issued a press release or commented on social media about Trump’s latest strikes against Syria.
SECOND UPDATE: Pete D’Alessandro, one of three Democrats running against Young in the third district, commented on Twitter, “Tonight is a direct example why I have said many times on this campaign, Congress is the only branch of our government that can declare war. It’s time for Congress to re-assert it’s constitutional mandate.”
Thomas Heckroth, one of four Democrats running against Blum in the first district, commented on Twitter, “President Trump’s use of force against Syria is illegal and sets a dangerous precedent for future, costly engagements. The horrific actions of the Syrian government demand a response, but the role of Congress in these decisions cannot be ignored.”
Courtney Rowe, another Democratic candidate in IA-01, posted on Facebook,
The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. We should also acknowledge no matter how strategic and precise a strike we deploy, civilian casualties are always a reality of military intervention and acts of war. Our response to innocent civilians being attacked by the Syrian military with chemical weapons, is to bomb and kill people who may have had absolutely no involvement in the attack.
We can be outraged and seek solutions to this problem without launching missiles. What follow up actions did we take after last year’s missile attack? How have we diplomatically pressured Assad to seek a change in policy? Military action should always be deliberate and a part of a long term solution. It should never be a reactionary response to back up our ego. Let us pray that this reactionary response not lead to more innocent lives lost, and the start of WWIII.