McGovern: Trump should have consulted Congress before strike

Democrat says U.S. should resume refugee program, work with international partners

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Worcester) is pictured here in a WWLP file image from 2015.

WASHINGTON (WWLP) – Congressman Jim McGovern says that President Donald Trump ought to have gotten authorization from Congress before launching a strike against a Syrian air base Thursday. In a statement sent to 22News, the Worcester Democrat said that all presidents must receive congressional approval before launching a strike.

The surprise strike targeted Shayrat air base, which is where U.S. officials believe the Syrian government launched a chemical weapons attack that killed 80 people. The Syrian military claims that seven people were killed and several were wounded in the U.S. strike, which involved nearly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from ships in the Mediterranean. McGovern said that the chemical attack was horrific, but Trump was wrong to respond in the way that he did.

“We agree that (Syrian President) Assad’s barbaric bombardment, chemical and military attacks against his own people cannot be allowed to continue. But that does not justify military action without any effort to even consult the American people and their elected representatives in Congress,” McGovern said.

“Charging into another endless war is not the answer. To finally end the suffering of the Syrian people, Congress must do its job and vote and debate on a bipartisan strategy. We must also ensure that any U.S. military action is not only approved by Congress, but has the backing of our international allies, partners, and the American people.”

Under the Constitution, it is Congress that has the power to declare war, however the United States has not formally done so since World War II even though there have obviously been numerous conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved since. The War Powers Act of 1973 requires the president to receive congressional authorization before committing U.S. troops into combat, but the Council on Foreign Relations says that it also allows the president substantial “leeway to respond to attacks or other emergencies.”

Can the president attack another country without Congress?

McGovern says that the United States needs to work with international partners to bring Assad to justice, and must also resume the refugee resettlement program, which Trump has suspended. He also says that the president must demand that the Russian government stop bombing raids on Syria in support of the Assad regime.