Texas’ congressional representatives react to Syria airstrikes

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Texas’ representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress quickly reacted to news of the airstrikes that President Donald Trump ordered Thursday against a Syrian military installation after a suspected chemical attack on civilians earlier this week.

While most Republicans praised the action, some suggested Trump should seek congressional authorization while others suggested they were pleased the president seemed to act as a leader of the free world rather than narrowly looking out for American interests, as he had promised in his recent address to Congress.

Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator and a Republican, lauded the action as “a clear message to Assad,” the Syrian dictator. “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Administration in condemning this brutality… The United States and the world community simply can’t stand idly while Syria continues crimes against humanity.”

Texas’ junior U.S. senator, Republican Ted Cruz, condemned Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons but said Trump should seek authorization from Congress: “Any military action in Syria must be justified as protecting the vital national security interests of America … and I look forward to our Commander-in-Chief making the case to Congress and the American people how we should do so in the days ahead.”

Rep. Kevin McCaul, a Republican whose district stretches from Katy to Austin and who chairs the House’s Homeland Security Committee, praised the action: “Passiveness in Syria is what has exacerbated this situation and allowed for adversaries such as Russia and Iran to exert their influence at the expense of U.S. national security, all the while allowing ISIS to flourish. Tonight’s military strikes in Syria are a signal to the world that the days of blank threats are long gone and under this Administration credibility will be restored.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston and also a member of the Homeland Security Committee, questioned how the strikes fit into a larger plan: “No amount of missile strikes are going to end the terror in Syria without an established strategy, something the Trump Administration does not have. If we are to stop the killing and solve the problem, Trump must immediately confront Vladimir Putin who is propping up Assad.”

Kevin Brady, a top House Republican who represents The Woodlands, was more ambiguous: “Like so many across the country and the world, I was sickened by the pictures of the Syrian chemical weapons victims. Too many have died or fled their homeland due to this relentless civil war. At what point is enough enough?”

Republican Rep. John Culberson of west Houston praised the move but, like Cruz, suggested the president should cooperate with legislators: “Swift decisive action like this missile strike will have a salutary effect on tyrants worldwide. As the leader of the free world, the United States cannot stand by and allow chemical weapons to be used against the Syrian people. I look forward to the Administration engaging with Congress on any ongoing efforts to combat atrocities in Syria.”

Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican who chairs a subcommittee on nonproliferation and whose district stretches from the Texas Medical Center to Spring to Humble, argued the airstrikes had a firm legal basis: “The use of chemical weapons is not only barbaric , it is a violation of international law. Accordingly, last night, the United States responded forcefully with a targeted strike against the origin of that attack. This swift and decisive retaliation was an appropriate and proportional response to this horrific crime. This Administration has sent the message to Assad and other dictators that when they do cross that red line there will now be consequences from the United States.”

The Republican who represents Friendswood and much of Galveston and Brazoria counties, Randy Weber, criticized the Obama administration’s policies before saying that “President Trump showed that he is ready and willing to act with appropriate speed and strength.”

Brian Babin, the Republican representative for a district that stretches from Pasadena and Baytown up to Woodville, also supported the airstrikes: “The tyrants and dictators around the world better take notice that for the first time in eight years we have a strong and decisive commander-in-chief in the White House. … I commend the President for his firm leadership and making clear to Assad and the entire world that such evil will not be tolerated. American leadership is back and it is high time.”

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