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Connect to Congress: After US Syria strike comes 'the hard part'

(Sinclair Broadcast Group )

Despite bipartisan outrage over the chemical weapons attack in Syria this week, there was praise and criticism on Capitol Hill Friday, after President Donald Trump's administration directed a U.S. military airstrike against a Syrian air base late Thursday.

One of the Senate's newest members Luther Strange, R-Ala., told Sinclair, "I think it's refreshing to see the president to state a policy and then follow-through on it and I think it will send a message -- not only in the Middle East, but perhaps to North Korea and some other countries that might be intending to test the United States' resolve."

Members of the U.S. Senate, however, differed over how the message got to their body and other important stakeholders, before the strikes occurred.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., pointed out that the administration did inform key international allies.

"He notified our allies -- the United Kingdom, Germany, France," Wicker told Sinclair, "got their support, and so he's already pulling together, on his way to pulling together an international coalition in support of this sort of targeted, limited action."

The Senate's number two Republican Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Sinclair that his office as notified prior to the strike as well.

"I received a call before the strike and I know a number of other members of the Senate did as well, informing us of the president's intention."

Democratic Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., did not receive one of those calls, but said that's okay.

"I believe they informed the people in the Congress that they would normally inform," Klobuchar told reporters. "They didn't call every member of the Senate, which is not the usual practice."

But former Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine, D-Va., characterized the strike as 'an act of war' and says the White House didn't do enough to inform Congress.

"I'm on the relevant committees and I didn't know anything about it," Kaine told reporters. "There clearly wasn't enough consultation and the Constitution's very clear about this. You can't go to war without a vote of Congress."

While questions are sure to linger over what informed the Trump administration's action against Syria, many members now chose to look forward on the issue in hopes the administration will be more forthcoming on its policy against the civil war-torn country.

"The hard part comes now," Cornyn said. "There needs to be a consultation with Congress to come up with a plan to deal with [Bashar al-] Assad."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also called out Syria's swaths of ungoverned spaces as a huge problem moving forward, blaming it partially on the rise of ISIS.

Rubio told Sinclair, "The majority of those fighters for Syria on the ground for ISIS are not Syrians. They're foreign fighters that have flowed into that ungoverned space and that's what we need to bring to a close."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Iraq war combat veteran, has a lot of questions on how Syria will be dealt with in the future by the U.S.

Duckworth asked: "Are we trying to go after regime change? Was this a one time deterrent effect? What happens if he (Assad) starts bombing his own people with barrel bombs? Do we let that go unanswered?"

Friday afternoon's briefing from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is expected to be the first in a series of laying out the Trump Administration's Syria policy plan.


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