Vermont's Congressional Delegation Reacts To Air Strikes In Syria

Apr 15, 2018

Vermont's Congressional delegation is speaking out against they way President Donald Trump ordered U.S. airstrikes on Syrian targets.

However, Sen. Sanders, Sen. Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch said the use of chemical weapons calls for an international response.

RELATED — "U.S., Allies Hit 3 Syrian Sites Linked To Chemical Weapons Program" [NPR]

Sen. Bernie Sanders

"It is Congress, not the president, which has the constitutional responsibility for making war," Sanders said in a prepared statement Friday night. "The international community must uphold the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, but it is unclear how President Trump's illegal and unauthorized strikes on Syria tonight will achieve that goal.

"After 17 years of war in Afghanistan and 15 years of war in Iraq, we need a political strategy to bring peace and stability to the region, not more U.S. military intervention."

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Leahy issued a statement Saturday morning saying, "The use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity that calls for an appropriate response.  But it is Congress' responsibility to declare war. Threatening the use of military force by tweet, and firing off missiles without a coherent policy or clear legal authority, raises obvious dangers and constitutional concerns and risks drawing us into a wider war.

"The President needs to be crystal clear with the American people and with the Congress about what our goals are in Syria and how he intends to achieve them."

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Welch responded Saturday morning, "Bashar al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons on his people is an egregious violation of international law. Last evening's missile strike was an appropriate response to this atrocity. However, it occurred in a context where the United States has no clear policy in Syria or the region and at a time when there is real potential for escalation into a conflict with Russia and Iran.

"The Constitution requires the President to seek authority from Congress before engaging in military activities. President Trump must do so immediately."

More on the situation in Syria

The U.S., along with Britain and France, carried out airstrikes against three chemical weapons-related targets in Syria.

RELATED — "5 Questions About Syria And Chemical Weapons" [NPR]

The strikes were in response to what appeared to be a chemical weapons attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma, by the Syrian regime.