Sen. Rand Paul has come out against President Donald Trump’s decision to attack Syria on Thursday, calling it unconstitutional.
“The president really doesn’t have the authority under the constitution to initiate war,” Paul said during an interview on Fox Business on Friday.
The U.S. military launched the surprise airstrike on a Syrian airfield Thursday evening. The move came in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians the administration believes was launched by the country’s embattled leader, Bashar Assad, and killed dozens of people.
The U.S. has conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria since 2014, but Thursday’s is the first against the Syrian government.
Paul has long spoken out against the U.S. taking military action in Syria and the Middle East. On Friday, he warned that the attack could strain relations with Russia, a close ally of Syria’s.
“The ramifications could be extreme — they may not — but there is a great danger in bumping up against another nuclear power,” Paul said.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican representing northern and eastern Kentucky, also voiced opposition to Trump’s attack, via Twitter.
“President Trump should have sought Congressional approval for so many reasons starting with ‘the #Constitution requires it,'” Massie tweeted.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s other U.S. Senator, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, threw his support behind Trump’s actions.
“The strike was well-planned, well-executed, was certainly more than a pin-prick and sends a message not only to Assad that using chemical weapons again is something he cannot do with impunity,” McConnell said during a news conference on Friday.
McConnell notably opposed President Barack Obama’s failed request in 2013 for an authorization to use military force against the Syrian government.
On Friday, McConnell said he couldn’t see a resolution to the Syrian conflict that keeps Assad in power.
“I just can’t imagine after all the butchering of his own people that he’s been doing now for four, five years that there could be any successful conclusion to this chaos with him still there,” McConnell said.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Democratic member of Kentucky’s federal delegation, issued a statement in support of the strike against Syria, which he said was in response to “criminal and inhumane actions.”
But he also called on Trump to seek Congressional approval for future actions against the country.
“I hope that Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell will move quickly to seek the congressional approval of yesterday’s action, so that the constitutional prerogatives of Congress’s war-making authority are asserted,” Yarmuth said. “No escalation of military activity in Syria or the region can proceed without explicit congressional approval.”