Democrats ask for information on legal justification for Biden’s attack in Syria

Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) are among Democrats criticizing the Biden administration for Thursday night’s airstrike on facilities in Syria linked to Iran. – backed militia group, demanding that Congress be immediately informed on the matter.

Because it is important: The attacks, which according to the Pentagon and the National Security Council were a response to threats against US forces in the region, constitute the Biden administration’s first open military action.

What they are saying:

  • Kaine: “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. Congress must be fully briefed on this matter quickly.”
  • Murphy: “Congress should keep this administration on the same level as previous administrations and demand clear legal justifications for military action, especially within theaters like Syria, where Congress has not explicitly authorized any US military action.”
  • Khanna: “We cannot defend congressional authorization before military strikes only when there is a Republican president. The administration should have sought authorization from Congress here. We need to work to get out of the Middle East, not scale. “

The other side: The Pentagon said in a statement Thursday that the attack was carried out “in response to recent attacks on US and Coalition personnel in Iraq” and was intended to “reduce the overall situation in both eastern Syria and in Iraq. ”

  • A spokesman for the National Security Council said the Pentagon previously notified Congress and that the administration continues to brief Hill at the member and staff level.
  • “As a matter of domestic law, the president took this action in accordance with his Article II authority to defend US personnel.”
  • There will be a full classified briefing “early next week, and earlier if Congress wishes,” the NSC spokesman added.

The panorama: All three Democrats have been outspoken against past presidents’ attempts to conduct offensive military operations without congressional approval.

  • Kaine has led the Senate charge to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq and replace the 2001 AUMF, which has been repeatedly cited by presidents to justify US military action across the world, with a more limited authorization.
  • Kaine and Khanna also presented resolutions passed by Congress in 2020 that would have required former President Trump to obtain congressional approval before taking military action against Iran, but were vetoed by the president.


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