WASHINGTON – Southwest Colorado’s congressional delegation had a mixed response to President Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syrian military targets late Friday, expressing mostly support for the attacks but voicing concern about congressional authorization and a lack of a broader strategy.
“While the recent action by the United States and our allies was necessary, I do believe that any expanded action by the United States military in Syria must be considered by Congress first,” Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said in a statement Saturday morning.
The missile strikes come in response to a chemical weapons attack in Western Syria a week ago. The decision to launch missiles into Syria comes after a week of threats from the president to take action.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said in a statement earlier in the week that the administration needed to make a “coordinated and proportional response.” After Trump’s address Friday, Gardner released a statement of support for the strikes.
“The United States and its allies cannot sit back and allow it to continue,” Gardner said. “The precision targeting of military targets are needed in the fight of good versus evil, a fight of the United States versus the dark edge of humanity.”
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet did not explicitly endorse the strikes, although he acknowledged in a statement Saturday morning that “deterrence has not worked.” He urged caution as the president took military action in a destabilized Middle East without the authorization of Congress, a similar concern as Tipton.
“Having failed to articulate a strategy for the crisis in Syria, President Trump risks pulling the United States into a broader conflict with this military action,” Bennet said. “The decision to use military force against the Syrian government must be made in pursuit of a comprehensive objective and with authorization from Congress.”
A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on Gardner’s concerns about military action without congressional approval.
Both Gardner’s and Bennet’s statements call for a “comprehensive” objective.
“These latest actions need to be part of a comprehensive strategy that secure lasting peace in Syria,” Gardner said Friday night.
The U.S. launched strikes against Syrian installations “associated with the use of chemical weapons,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said at a news conference Saturday morning.
Gen. James Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced Friday night that the United States launched missiles at three targets: a research facility in Damascus that the U.S. alleges is connected with Syrian chemical weapons and two chemical weapons storage facilities in Western Syria.
The Pentagon said the targets were successfully hit and took out the “heart” of the Syrian chemical weapons program.
“This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, staff director for the joint chiefs, said Saturday.
The United States carried out the operation with France and the United Kingdom.
The Pentagon said that the strikes did not represent a change in strategy toward Syria and that further action by the U.S. would be based off the future actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Andrew Eversden is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.