WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement on the Trump Administration decision to launch U.S. airstrikes on pro-Assad forces in Syria:
“Yesterday’s confrontation between U.S. and pro-Assad forces in territory retaken from ISIS last year raises serious questions about our continued presence in Syria. While I am grateful that no U.S. or coalition members were harmed in the attack, I am gravely concerned that the Trump Administration is purposefully stumbling into a broader conflict, without a vote of Congress or clear objectives. The Administration owes Congress and the American public answers on the goals of this mission – which goes beyond the defeat of ISIS and the legal authority of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.”
Kaine questioned this decision in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today where he asked Paul C. Ney, Jr., a nominee to be considered for the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, for the legal justification for the Administration’s decision to launch these airstrikes. [Video here]
For years, Kaine has been outspoken about Presidents’ efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization. In January, Kaine spoke out against the Trump Administration decision to keep U.S. troops in Syria beyond the counter-ISIS mission. In December, Kaine wrote a letter to Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson requesting information on the current goals of the counter-ISIS campaign, and expressing concern over reports that the U.S. military might now be used to pressure the Syrian government, target Iran and its proxies, and engage other entities not covered under the 2001 AUMF.