Trump’s missile strike wins support from both parties

Republicans and Democrats back decision but want details on long-term plan for Syria

US president Donald Trump:  In the hours preceding the missile strike on the Shayrat airfield in western Syria, the Trump administration delivered its strongest criticism yet of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump: In the hours preceding the missile strike on the Shayrat airfield in western Syria, the Trump administration delivered its strongest criticism yet of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

 

US lawmakers from both parties backed US president Donald Trump’s decision to launch a military strike against Syria, but demanded further details on the president’s long-term plan for Syria as a precondition for congressional support.

Amid confirmation that Mr Trump’s surprise decision to attack a Syrian air base had been communicated to some senior figures on Capitol Hill ahead of the strike, some influential members of the Republican Party, such as senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, called for even more action from the United States to deal with Syria. Mr McCain said that the strikes should be the “end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end”.

Praised

Senator Marco Rubio, a former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination, praised the president’s actions. “I think the time has come for some of these countries to be worried about us a little bit, not us always worried about what they might do,” he told Fox News.

Democrats, with the memory fresh of president Barack Obama’s decision not to intervene in Syria in 2013, gave a more cautious welcome to the intervention.

Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, said the action was “a clear signal” the US will stand against the use of chemical weapons. But he also said in a statement that “any longer-term or larger military operation” will need to be done in consultation with Congress.

The top-ranking Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, urged speaker Paul Ryan to reconvene Congress, which broke for a two-week spring break on Friday, to debate the issue.

American families

While senator Tim Kaine, a member of the armed services committee and Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in the presidential election, welcomed the decision to launch the strike, the president “should not have done this without coming to Congress”, he said, noting that thousands of American families had members of the military stationed in the region.

As the debate about the constitutionality of Mr Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike without the support of Congress dominated discussion on Capitol Hill, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he believed that the president had the legal authority for striking Syria without asking Congress.

But he also said he was open to “taking a look” at a more formal authorisation of military action.

Mr Mitchell, a strong critic of Russia, suggested that Congress may also consider further sanctions against Moscow.

Complicity

His comments came amid emerging signs that the US could investigate possible Russian complicity in the use of chemical agents in Syria, a possibility that would significantly escalate tensions between the two world powers. Russia entered the war in September 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad and is understood to have had a military presence in the Shayrat airfield ahead of the attacks.

In the hours preceding the missile strike on the airfield in western Syria, the Trump administration delivered its strongest criticism yet of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, with secretary of state Rex Tillerson warning Russia to “carefully consider” its continued support for the Assad regime, and suggesting that steps were under way to remove the president.

But Mr Trump, who has been plagued by accusations of close ties to Russia throughout his presidency, did not mention Russia during his address to the nation on Thursday night announcing his decision to launch the strikes.