Democrats are calling the Biden administration’s airstrikes in Syria unconstitutional.
President Biden on Thursday ordered airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria used by Iranian-backed militant groups, his first military action since taking office. The strikes were in response to several rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.
While Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the limited scope of the airstrikes “aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq,” many Democrats expressed concerns on Friday that the move has done just the opposite, and argued it wasn’t legally justified.
“Some Democrats said that Congress has not passed an authorization for the use of military force specifically in Syria,” reports CNN.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said “there is absolutely no justification for a president to authorize a military strike that is not in self-defense against an imminent threat without congressional authorization … we need to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) agreed, calling for an immediate congressional briefing and saying “offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances.”
Republicans, however, were seemingly largely pleased with the move. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the U.S. response a “necessary deterrent” to tell Iran that attacks on U.S. interests “will not be tolerated,” reports CNN. As Fox News notes, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), among others, also applauded the strike, calling it “proportional.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the action as “necessary,” and said Biden “has the right to take action” as he sees fit. She said “there was a thorough, legal response” and the Defense Department briefed congressional leadership in advance.