Responding to news of U.S. military strikes against government forces in Syria, Vermont’s Congressional delegation expressed the need for caution and Congressional involvement. But they didn’t voice opposition to the strikes.
The U.S. attack comes after reports earlier in the week of chemical weapons being used against civilians in Khan Shaykhun, Syria.
Congressman Peter Welch, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Patrick Leahy all called Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad a “war criminal” in written statements, but the delegation also urged caution so that the U.S. doesn’t end up in another extended military conflict.
“When brutality, like we have seen against the citizens of Syria by their own government, shocks our consciences, the desire to act decisively is strong,” Leahy said in a statement. “We must keep in mind that we have learned that there are grave risks and unintended consequences in the use of military force, especially unilateral military force. When used it should be in self-defense or part of a larger strategy in conjunction with our international partners, and with the broad support of the American people.”
Sanders said in his written statement that if there’s one thing the U.S. should have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, “it’s that it’s easier to get into a war than get out of one.”
Both senators calls on the Trump administration to put forth a clear plan of action so that Congress and the American people can decide whether or not to support continued military strikes.
“The President is now required to give Congress notification under the War Powers Act," Leahy said in the statement. "I will want to see what it says, and I would think that all Senators will want to see it as well.”
Welch said the same is true for the House of Representatives.
"President Trump has a constitutional obligation to submit to Congress his plan to defeat ISIS and stabilize Syria," Welch said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Congress must get off the sidelines and do its job by debating and voting on his plan."
The U.S. military was already operating in the region, but not against Syrian government forces. As part of Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. warplanes have been bombing fighters with the so-called Islamic State for more than a year. F-16s and crews from the Vermont Air National Guard deployed over the winter to participate in the ongoing fighting.