WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump continues to convey conflicting messages on whether his administration will launch missile strikes in Syria after an apparent chemical attack that left approximately 70 dead, some lawmakers Thursday demanded Congress vote to authorize any new use of American military force.
“We need a new AUMF,” declared Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at a news conference at the Capitol earlier today. “If the President intends to do anything more than a proportionate discrete strike on a facility, he will need a new authorization for the use of military force.”
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a longtime supporter of a new bipartisan Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), tried to pin down President Trump’s Secretary State nominee, Mike Pompeo, on whether a new authorization was needed.
Pompeo said he believed the president already had the authorization he needed for limited strikes, such as the one Trump conducted in Syria shortly after taking office in 2017.
“In each case where we can, our soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines are better off if we have the entirety of the United States government working tougher and having authorized activity,” said Pompeo. “For a long time, multiple administrations have found that the president has the authority to take certain actions without first coming to Congress to seek approval.”
At a news conference earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan also agreed that the existing AUMF gives Trump the authority to “do what he may or may not do.”
In response to a reporter’s question about whether the President was “dithering” on making a decision after tweeting Wednesday that missiles “will be coming”, Ryan insisted he wouldn’t “get ahead of the President and what he is planning on doing,” noting he has discussed Syria with Trump and that the Administration is “taking a very deliberate and careful approach on this…going through all of the options and consulting our allies.”
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
While Ryan would not say whether he thought strikes were needed, he said Syrian leader “Bashar al-Assad and his enablers in Tehran and Moscow have committed another mass atrocity on people in Syria” and that the U.S. “has an obligation to lead an international response to hold people accountable for that.”
Speaking from the White House earlier Thursday, Trump said he met with his advisors on Syria and promised that decisions will be made “fairly soon.”
“We’ll see what happens, folks… It’s too bad the world puts us in a position like that… We’ve done a great job with ISIS… now we have to make some further decisions,” said Trump.