Illinois Congressional leaders issued reactions today to the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and other Iranian military officials near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq yesterday. The airstrikes have prompted the deployment of 3,000 U.S. Troops to Iraq and Kuwait by President Donald Trump.
The Illinois Congressional delegation has had mixed reactions to the President’s actions. 18th District Congressman Darin LaHood said the airstrike was a way to end terrorism in the Middle East:
“Qasem Soleimani was the mastermind behind Iran’s terrorist regime, responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans and thousands more in the Middle East. President Trump was right to act decisively to deliver the justice Soleimani deserved and protect Americans at home and abroad. I applaud the President and his team for their swift action, and I am grateful for our brave military and intelligence officials who executed the mission. I look forward to learning more from our military officials, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said that the President executed poor judgment in the decision to activate the airstrike without consulting Congress first:
“The killing of Iranian General Soleimani invites even further escalation by a President who has a poor record of judgment in dealing with world powers. While President Obama successfully negotiated a nuclear arms agreement with Iran that included Russia and China, President Trump walked away from the agreement and promised confrontation with Iran. Now Iraq – a country where America has invested thousands of American lives and trillions of taxpayer dollars – has sided with Iran. Before my Senate colleagues reflexively back the Administration, remember the Constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize war; ask the critical questions of what led us to this point and where we are headed, and be a reliable source of support for the men and women who bear the burden of battle.”
Fellow Senator and former combat veteran Tammy Duckworth wanted to remind people the true costs of armed conflict with another country:
“I first ran for office to ensure that when the drums of war beat loudly in Washington, I would be able to remind my colleagues in Congress and the White House what the true costs of war actually are-not just in dollars, but in American troops’ lives as well. There is no question that Iranian Major General Soleimani posed a threat to the free world, but there is also no question that the President-any President-does not have Constitutional authority to draw the United States into a war without prior Congressional approval. This solemn duty is solely for Congress to decide, but the Trump Administration appears to have failed to inform the people’s representatives of his actions and, in doing so, may very well lead us to war. That’s unacceptable. Donald Trump owes it to our troops and to our Constitution to follow the law, provide the American people the transparency they deserve and ensure Congress is able to perform its Constitutional duties.”
Later today, Durbin and fellow U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced a war powers resolution to force a debate and vote in Congress to prevent further escalation of hostilities with Iran. The resolutions are privileged, meaning the Senate will have to vote on the legislation. The resolution underscores that Congress has the sole power to declare war, as laid out in the Constitution. The resolution requires that any hostilities with Iran must be explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force, but does not prevent the United States from defending itself from imminent attack. The resolution will force a public debate and vote in Congress as outlined by the Constitution.
Durbin said he wants to force the question to his colleagues so the country isn’t forced into another ongoing conflict in the Middle East:
“The Senate must not let this President march into another war in the Middle East without authorization from Congress. The Constitution is clear – only the Congress can declare war. And whether it does or not, we must ask critical questions of what led us to this point and where we are headed, and be a reliable source of support for the men and women who bear the burden of battle.”
Iran has said in their state media that they will retaliate against the United States in some form. The U.S. Embassy in Iraq has ordered all U.S. Citizens in Iraq to evacuate immediately. The Iraqi government has condemned the U.S. Airstrike as a violation of its sovereignty and its military agreement to allow U.S. Troops in the country.