Democrats criticize Biden for launching air strikes in Syria with out asking Congress

The U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jets fly in formation during a military aircraft flyover along the Hudson River and New York Harbor, past York City and New Jersey, the United States, on July 4, 2020.

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Some Senate Democrats on Friday criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to launch an air strike in Syria on Thursday evening without speaking to Congress as a whole.

According to a spokesman for the National Security Council, the Pentagon informed the congressional leadership before the action. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi was notified prior to the strike, according to a Democratic adviser.

Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., On Friday requested the Biden government for a briefing on the decision-making behind the airstrikes.

“The American people deserve to hear the government’s reasons for these strikes and their legal justification for acting without coming to Congress. Offensive military action without the approval of Congress is unconstitutional without exceptional circumstances,” a statement said from Caine’s office. Kaine is a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

There will be a fully classified briefing early next week, the NSC spokesman said.

Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, also called for transparency.

“Congress should keep this government on par with previous administrations and require clear legal justifications for military action, especially in theaters like Syria where Congress has not specifically approved American military action,” Murphy said in a statement Friday.

A representative from New York City Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden on Thursday directed US military air strikes in eastern Syria against facilities that the Pentagon said were Iran-backed militias in response to recent missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

In a February 15 attack, missiles struck the US military base in Irbil in the Kurdish-led region, killing a non-US contractor and injuring a number of US contractors and a US service member. Another volley days later hit a base where US forces were stationed north of Baghdad, injuring at least one contractor. On Monday, missiles hit the Baghdad Green Zone, where the US embassy and other diplomatic missions are located.

“It’s hard to say for sure if there is some strategic computation driving this … recent surge in attacks, or if this is just a continuation of the kind of attacks we have seen in the past,” said John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary gave a briefing Monday.

“We will hold Iran responsible for the attacks and the provocations of its deputies,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said in a separate briefing on Monday. The missile attack in Irbil “continues to be actively investigated,” he said.

Thursday’s US air strikes earned Biden rare praise from across the aisle. Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., thanked Biden for moving.

In 2018, then President Donald Trump ordered military strikes in Syria. The move also sparked criticism from Democrats.

“The president needs to come to Congress and secure authorization to use military force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that will protect our military,” Pelosi tweeted at the time.

– Reuters contributed to this report.

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