See below for reactions by Virginia politicians to yesterday’s military strikes in Syria.
Beyer Statement On Syria Strikes
April 14, 2018 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer released the following statement today on President Trump’s decision to initiate military action against Syria:
“The President’s sudden decision to attack Syria is a dangerous abuse of his constitutional authority.
The atrocities committed by the Assad regime are appalling and require a measured response, but that response must be part of a larger strategy, and approved by Congress. The Constitution and the War Powers Resolution require congressional authorization for the use of military force, and claims that action in Syria would be justified by the post-9/11 Authorization simply are not valid.
Instead of presenting a strategy calculated to achieve goals in the national interest or even humanitarian objectives, however, the President has telegraphed indecision and instability to our allies and enemies alike. He steadfastly refused to honor American commitments to take in Syrian refugees, suspended humanitarian aid to Syria, and signaled his intention to withdraw US forces from the country less than two weeks ago.
I fervently hope for the safety of our courageous men and women in uniform. Putting them in harm’s way should always be the result of steady, determined leadership, but our President seems to have done it in on a whim. This is a frightening moment for our country.”
KAINE STATEMENT ON SYRIA AIRSTRIKES
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement after President Trump launched airstrikes against Syria without seeking approval from Congress:
“President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and – absent a broader strategy – it’s reckless. Last week, President Trump was adamant that the U.S. was leaving Syria imminently. This week, he is opening a new military front. Assad must face consequences for his war crimes, but Presidents cannot initiate military action when there isn’t an imminent threat to American lives. Today, it’s a strike on Syria – what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next? The last thing Congress should be doing is giving this President a blank check to wage war against anyone, anywhere. We need to put clear limits in place before he starts another war, and I’m working to do just that.”
For years, Kaine has been outspoken about Presidents’ efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization. In December, Kaine wrote a letter to the Trump Administration requesting information on U.S. strategy in Syria, expressing concern over reports that the U.S. military might now be used to pressure the Syrian government, target Iran and its proxies, and engage other entities not covered under the 2001 AUMF. In January, Kaine spoke out against the Trump Administration’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Syria beyond the counter-ISIS mission and in February, he raised concerns again over recent U.S. airstrikes absent a clear strategy. Kaine has repeatedly demanded that the Trump Administration release a secret memo that, according to reports, the Administration has created detailing the legal basis for airstrikes last April against the Shayrat military airbase in Syria. He has yet to receive a response.
STATEMENT OF VICE CHAIRMAN MARK R. WARNER
~ On missile strikes in Syria ~
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on the U.S. airstrikes against Syria:
“I watched the President’s speech tonight, and my thoughts are with the men and women in uniform who are in harm’s way. I look forward to receiving more details from the Administration about the targets and strategic goals of these strikes. While the U.S. and our allies must not turn a blind eye to Assad’s vile and inhumane attacks against his own citizens, military action in Syria must be measured, as part of a coherent strategy to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons without further destabilizing an already-volatile region or inadvertently expanding the conflict.”
As a Congressman representing an area filled with fighting men and women who are called upon whenever and wherever there is evil in the world, I take any use of force and risk to their lives very seriously. The President rightfully took action and announced airstrikes on Syria tonight, this in response to the gruesome deployment of internationally banned chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its people. The failure of Russia and Assad to uphold their deal was predictable, regrettable and they must be held accountable. The United States with our allies have responded in a calculated, restrained, and necessary way with the goal of degrading and deterring the Assad regime’s capability of doing this again. I remain very concerned about the potential powder keg that is Syria, with many great powers operating within its borders, and the potential for flashpoints of conflict that could spiral out of control. I also believe the current authorization of use of military force is almost obsolete, should be updated immediately by Congress, and that any “sustained” military operations related to these Syria actions should be expeditiously debated by Congress, with input on strategy from the administration, this is our Constitutional duty. God speed to our troops and God bless these United States.
Last night, President Trump launched airstrikes, in conjunction with France and the United Kingdom, against the Syrian regime, following a brutal chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma.
I am deeply disturbed by the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical weapons against innocent Syrian civilians. This and the many other crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime, which are in violation of international law, must be addressed by the entire international community.
The President must now present a comprehensive plan to Congress detailing how his Administration intends to address the situation in Syria, ensure that the United Nations and our allies will participate in this effort, and clarify how these strikes fit into that strategy. This plan should keep our nation safe, engage our allies in this effort, and ideally keep our men and women in uniform from another protracted military intervention in the Middle East. However, the President must not commit our military to further engagement in Syria without first securing a new Authorization of Use of Military Force from Congress.
While the actions taken by the Syrian regime deserve a strong and calculated response, the President should not be taking military action until Congress approves another Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
In 2003 I witnessed a lack of courage in Congress lead to a war in Iraq. It was a war against a terrible regime, but it was a war of choice. It was the wrong choice. Congress must find its courage immediately to prevent a similar mistake in Syria.
I condemn the barbarity of the Syrian regime and its use of both chemical and non-chemical weapons to terrorize its population. Nonetheless, the use of chemical weapons by Assad against his population poses no immediate threat to the United States or to U.S. Forces. In the absence of such a threat, it is the role of Congress, not the President, to determine whether to authorize the use of military force. I call on Congress to stop shirking its Constitutional obligations and immediately halt the unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless use of force by President Trump against the Assad Regime – a use of force that, with Russian and Iranian forces on the ground, could lead to unforeseen consequences and possible military confrontation with either power.
Congress should act immediately to cease hostilities, and it should not authorize a war of choice in Syria. Airpower alone has proven unable to deter the use of chemical weapons by the Assad Regime, which means that true deterrence would require invasion of Syria with ground forces. And, while such an invasion may be able to end the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, it would require a multi-year commitment with hundreds of thousands of troops to stabilize the country and replace the regime. We have already seen in Iraq how bloody and costly such a proposition is likely to prove.
I recommend calling your Representatives to demand that they exert their Constitutional authority and end these strikes. For those of you in my district, Rep. Comstock’s line is 202-225-5136, Sen. Kaine’s is 202-224-4024, and Sen. Warner’s is 202-224-2023.
While I disagree with this use of military force, I will be praying tonight that my fellow men and women in uniform will be safe.