WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – Florida lawmakers have offered support for President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a military airstrike against Syria.
Trump huddled with his national security team on Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach to discuss options on Syria.
The Pentagon reports 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea. The missiles struck the Syrian airfield where the plane that carried the chemical weapon in this week’s attack that killed dozens – including children – took off from.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Syrian military says seven people were killed in the attack and that the airstrike did extensive damage to the airfield.
The Syrian military and Russia have called the airstrike an act of aggression.
A number of South Florida elected officials have expressed their support for the airstrike.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the airstrike on a Syrian airfield, where the chemical attacks were launched from, sent a message about American resolve but that Congress should have a role in this moving forward.
“In a dysfunctional Congress that is the real world, every action we take is seen as are you with the president or against the president. I don’t care who the president is. I want us to take action if somebody uses chemical weapons. I was with Barack Obama. I am now with this president when he takes action like this,” she said. “He must consult with Congress but I am saying if you want murderous thugs to kill innocent civilians, wantonly without any restrictions, then you will say he cannot take any action unless we authorize this mission.”
Senator Marco Rubio also spoke out and supported Trump’s move.
“It was proportional and it was targeted. But it was not just symbolic. He specifically targeted and significantly degraded a key military installation which has been used in the past and I believe would have been used in the future for chemical attacks,” said Rubio.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, “Last night’s targeted missile attack on al-Shayrat air base was a measured and appropriate response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent men, women, and children. Since 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed an estimated 400,000 people – mostly civilians – by unconscionably targeting and attacking major population centers.”
The Wasserman Schultz was concerned that Congress was not involved in the decision process.
“Although the missile attack was warranted, I have serious concerns about the Trump Administration’s irresponsible statements earlier in the week, which may have emboldened Assad, and an overall erratic policy that indicates there is no longer-term strategy in place here.
For these reasons, I support our nation exercising the moral leadership that makes us a beacon of hope to the rest of the world. However, we must also lead by example, which means ensuring we uphold our Constitution. To that end, if President Trump believes it is in our national interest to engage in further hostilities against the Assad regime, he must obtain an authorization for the use of such force from Congress.”
Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, who represents parts of central Broward and Palm Beach counties tweeted that he supports the targeted airstrike in response to Assad’s war crime.
Assad’s disregard for int’l law & innocent lives demanded measured response. Now Congress must debate AUMF to focus & limit Syria strategy. pic.twitter.com/nNBOybIwf0
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) April 7, 2017
Deutch also echoed the sentiment of many in Congress that if President Trump plans to intensify or prolong these air strikes or any military action he needs to discuss it with Congress first.
“It’s true that Congress doesn’t function as well as it should but certainly, I would think that every member of Congress should want to engage in the debate that’s necessary on behalf of our constituents – people we represent about what we ought to be doing, what our policies ought to be and setting the limitations and constraints that have to be in place so we don’t get pulled into another long war,” said Deutch.
Florida’s Democratic Senator Bill Nelson offered his support of the President’s decision in a tweet.
I support the admin’s strike on the air base that launched the chemical attack. I hope this teaches Assad not to use chemical weapons again.
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) April 7, 2017
Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also said the strike was an appropriate response.
— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) April 7, 2017