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McCollum Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

April 7, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released the following statement after the U.S. military launched airstrikes against a Syrian government airfield in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians:

“The Syrian military's use of chemical weapons against civilians was a heinous violation of human rights and international norms and, alongside the more than 400,000 dead in the Syrian civil war, another example of the Assad regime's crimes against humanity. The U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump against Syria's Shayrat airfield was a restrained and limited response. However, President Trump's show of force will likely have no real effect on the disastrous civil war that continues to rage in Syria, where both the Assad regime and ISIS control regions within a divided country.

“President Trump must be fully transparent with Congress and the American people about his plans for expanding the U.S. military's role in the Syrian conflict. There are currently as many as 1,000 U.S. special forces inside Syria battling ISIS. American drone strikes against targets in Syria recently left scores of civilians dead, according to media reports. With this strike, it is clear that the Trump administration is expanding U.S. military involvement in Syria. It is absolutely imperative that President Trump come to Congress to ask for the legal authority to use additional military force in Syria – setting clearly defined parameters for American involvement. In 2013, Congress rejected President Obama's request for authorization to conduct limited strikes against the Assad regime following chemical attacks on civilians. The failure of Republicans and Democrats in Congress to support President Obama gave Assad a green light to use these weapons again.

“The United States, working with our international allies and partners, needs a comprehensive plan to address the Syrian regime's barbaric acts while keeping innocent Syrians safe. The need to coordinate with our allies and partners is made even more obvious by the fact the Russian government were either complicit or willfully ignorant as this chemical attack took place. President Trump must hold Russian President Putin accountable for enabling the Assad regime’s crimes. In addition, a comprehensive diplomatic and humanitarian plan to address the Syrian crisis must include the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States, something that President Trump extinguished with his discriminatory and bigoted ban on Muslim immigration.

“I urge Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately call the U.S. House of Representatives back into session. Now is not the time for Congress to be in recess for two weeks. Congress must fully debate the Trump administration's military actions in Syria and set clear limits on the use of U.S. troops and military action in accord with our responsibilities under the Constitution.”