The current and immediate past chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee have publicly backed President Barack Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, despite the fact the president did not seek congressional approval for them
“When in times of war and of peace it is important that we come together as a nation,” Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the current chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement late Monday. “To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria. I support the administration’s move to conduct airstrikes against ISIS wherever it exists. ISIS is not just a threat to the United States – it is a threat to all nations that value human life and decency. We must continue to lead the coalition and utilize all tools available to combat this threat until ISIS is destroyed.”
Late Monday evening, news broke that the United States was engaged in airstrikes on ISIS bases in Syria. The Associated Press reports that the attacks involve a coalition of various Middle Eastern nations like Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. During coverage of the breaking news late Monday, analysts on Fox News expected Turkey–a major force in the region and member of NATO, which has thus far been wary of U.S. efforts to snuff out ISIS–to soon join in the effort.
Via Twitter, and in an appearance on Fox News, Rep. Peter King (R-NY)–the immediate past chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee–called on all Americans to back Obama’s play here.
“All Americans must stand w/ Pres Obama in our war against ISIS – particularly tonight‘s air strikes in Syria,” King Tweeted.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) backed the strikes as well, saying that Obama should have done this a long time ago.
“These airstrikes on ISIL’s command and training centers are long overdue,” Royce said. “With them, the space for these terrorists to operate will shrink. An effective campaign to destroy ISIL can’t be limited to one side of the border between Iraq and Syria. While this initial attack will be a big psychological blow to the terrorist group, an air campaign will need to be major and sustained. The reported participation of Arab allies in the region is welcome. This is their fight as much as ours.”
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a conservative with libertarian leanings and a tendency for rocking the boat in the House of Representatives against even his own party, said via Twitter that Obama should have sought congressional approval for these airstrikes. President Obama did not seek authorization from Congress for them. Amash noted that congressional leaders like Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–who adjourned Congress for campaign season last week, a week before the scheduled recess–are similarly to blame for the lack of congressional debate and votes on the strikes.
“It’s irresponsible & immoral that instead of debating & voting on war, congressional leaders chose to recess Congress for nearly two months,” Amash said via Twitter.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who hasn’t said anything on Monday evening or early Tuesday yet, has said in recent weeks that he supports airstrikes but if he were president he would have sought congressional approval before engaging in such military action on behalf of the United States.
“If I were in President Obama’s shoes at this time, I would have called Congress back, I would have had a joint session of Congress, and I would have said ‘this is why ISIS is a threat to the United States, to the stability of the region, to our embassy, to our diplomats, and this is why I’m asking you today to authorize air attacks,'” Paul said in an interview with Breitbart News right before August recess ended, for instance.
There doesn’t seem to be any major Democratic leaders who have weighed in on the situation as of early Tuesday.
The only other major congressional leader to issue a statement Monday evening or early Tuesday seems to be Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). “I spoke earlier this evening with Vice President Biden, who informed me by phone that the United States was joining with our partners in the region to carry out airstrikes against ISIL in Syria,” Chambliss said. “I commend our allies in the region for stepping up and demonstrating their commitment to the fight against ISIL. I’m hopeful these strikes directed at hard targets will result in measurable progress towards degrading ISIL’s capabilities and possibly even taking out ISIL fighters and leadership. As the United States moves forward with military action to defeat ISIL, we must continue to engage our allies in these efforts and work together to eliminate this dangerous cancer.”