04/08/2017

Most Senators Support Trump’s Syria Airstrike

Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight

But many have reservations about what comes next.

UPDATE (April 7, 6:29 p.m.): We’ve added Sen. Cochran! Seventy-nine senators support the strike in Syria, and all 100 are on the record.

UPDATE (April 7, 6 p.m.): The article below has been updated with positions for 12 senators previously recorded as “no clear public statement.” According to our latest count, only Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has yet to take a position; 78 senators support the strike in Syria (48 Republicans and 30 Democrats).


More than three-fourths of U.S. senators, including more than two dozen Democrats, have said that they support President Trump’s decision to strike an air base in Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Much of that support came with concern about what comes next, but this is one of the first times in Trump’s presidency that a major policy decision has received more than token support from Senate Democrats.

A tally of senators’ positions1 also illustrated an important partisan divide. Almost every Democrat who backed the military strikes hedged their support. Some argued that Trump should have consulted Congress before this move. Others said that, going forward, the president would need to ask for and receive formal congressional authorization or at least present a detailed Syria strategy to the country before any further military action.

In contrast, the majority of Republicans who issued a statement offered full support for Trump’s move, without such conditions.

Kentucky’s Rand Paul is the only Republican who has publicly said he opposes the strikes, arguing that such military action must be approved by Congress first. He called Trump’s decision “unconstitutional.” Another Republican, Utah’s Mike Lee, while not opposing the attack in Syria, also declined to support it, similarly citing the lack of congressional authorization.

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