WASHINGTON D.C. — A U.S. military airstrike that targeted and killed one of Iran’s most powerful military leaders has sent shock waves through Congress.
While most Republicans are applauding the attack, Democrats say they fear the move will escalate tensions with Iran for the worst.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) says the White House should have consulted with Congress before the airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“The question we have to be asking ourselves today is whether Qassem Soleimani is more dangerous to the United States alive or dead,” Murphy said.
By midday Friday, the Pentagon ordered more than 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East to prepare for counter attacks. And the state department issued a travel warning, urging Americans to leave Iraq immediately.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American servicemen and servicewomen — and was plotting more attacks.
“The risk of doing nothing was enormous,” Pompeo said. “The intelligence community made that assessment.”
Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said it is custom to brief top members of Congress before taking military action.
“I’m a member of the Gang of 8 which is typically briefed in advance of operations of this level of significance, we were not,” Schumer said.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who is also a Marine veteran, says Iran brought the situation on itself.
“You can’t sit by and do nothing,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) agrees.
“Will there be escalation? Yes. But the escalation is not on our part,” he said. “We’re finally responding to continued provocations by Iran.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Trump administration will brief the entire Senate on the attack early next week.
“I recommend that all Senators wait to review the facts and hear from the administration before passing much public judgement,” McConnell said.
Ian Hurd, a political science professor at Northwestern, said the president should have consulted Congress. But president often act without winning approval from lawmakers.
“An imminent threat isn’t in itself enough to give a president authorization,” Hurd said. “Now the problem is that there have been many such strikes like this ordered by American presidents in the past and even on bigger scales and those have always skirted the rules as well.”
A spokesman for the United Nations Secretary General said the strike “most likely” violated international law.