President Donald Trump’s order of a missile strike on a military base in retaliation for the Syrian government’s deadly chemical attack on civilians served as a strong, decisive message to bad actors worldwide, congressional Republicans say, and signified the new administration would hew closely to the traditional concept of American power.
In interviews with The Daily Signal, Republicans of all stripes said they were OK that Trump did not consult Congress before he authorized the strike, in which 59 cruise missiles hit a Syrian air base early Friday morning local time.
It was the first U.S. military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s six years of civil war.
But as the Trump administration hints at a tougher approach to the Assad regime, Republican lawmakers say they expect to have a greater influence on future military action.
“With this very positive action in Syria, the president has now brought to the forefront the need for a discussion between Congress and the administration about strategy going forward,” said Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., a freshman lawmaker and Vietnam War veteran. “This event has become a catalyst for the next logical step that we have to have as a country. It’s an opportunity for us as a country to show collaborative leadership within our system.”
Bergman called for the Trump administration to propose an official Authorization for Use of Military Force for Congress to review. Rather than delineating a specific strategy, an AUMF—as the authorization is known—gives the basic legal authority for the U.S. military to use force against an enemy.
“Congress cannot be disengaged,” Bergman told The Daily Signal in an interview. “We need to be involved in creating an AUMF of the future and understand this not a political game. This is about national security.”