U.S. lawmakers from Central Texas and across the state had mixed reactions Saturday to President Donald Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes at Syria, with some applauding the action and others saying he first needed congressional approval.
The airstrikes were in retaliation to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his own people. On Saturday, Trump declared the strikes a success, tweeting “Mission accomplished!”
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, said the attacks send a “clear message to the Assad regime the U.S. and our allies will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.”
“Russia and Iran must end support for this barbaric regime and work with international community to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria,” he said.
But U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said Trump had “no strategy for success or legal authority” to order the strikes, adding that attacks on a Syrian target in 2017 “accomplished nothing.”
“The danger of escalation remains real, but the potential for stopping more Assad murders is minimal,” he said. “Now, like George W. Bush’s bizarrely premature declaration of ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq, Trump has now tweeted ‘Mission Accomplished.’ What Mission? What accomplishment?”
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said U.S. leaders faced a “terrible, tough choice,” adding “missiles don’t solve long-term challenges.” He urged the president to consult with Congress on any future military action against Assad and future foreign policy challenges.
“It is nearly impossible to employ a sensible diplomatic strategy without the infrastructure for diplomacy in place,” Castro said. “We have no confirmed secretary of state and a new national security advisor who has a track record of politicizing intelligence and inflating the dangers of Syria’s biological and nuclear weapons program during his previous public service.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo said the chemical attacks “make it clear” that, as a global leader, the United States must lead efforts to prevent more attacks on Syrian civilian.
“Although it is disappointing that we do not have unanimity on the United Nations Security Council on this issue, we cannot let it deter our commitment to this matter, or allow it to diminish our moral, Democratic obligation” he said.
In a series of tweets, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said the American people should be the decision-makers when it comes to military attacks on other countries.
“We may decide that use of chemical weapons requires a military response,” he said. “But we must decide that lawfully, as a country, through our representatives in Congress. Holding the president to the law and Constitution doesn’t mean we condone Assad nor does it preclude military response.”
O’Rourke also criticized the White House for its refusal to accept Syrian refugees.
“We are on pace to welcome only 44 this year — FORTY FOUR — in the wealthiest most powerful country the world has ever known,” he said in a tweet.
While those Texas representatives had a lot to say, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, had a one-word reaction to the president’s announcement: “Good.”
He did not respond to a request for further comment.