PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Federal lawmakers from the Pacific Northwest are speaking out following the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military general in Iraq, sparking renewed concerns about rising tensions in the Middle East after Iran swore to carry out “harsh retaliation.”
Many of the lawmakers who have spoken out so far, most of them Democrats, have decried the airstrike that killed Revolutionary Guard Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani as an assassination, and demanded more congressional authorization and oversight.
Oregon’s senior U.S. senator called Soleimani “a bad man with a lot of blood on his hands,” but added in the same tweet that President Donald Trump’s decision to launch the strike against Baghdad’s airport, which killed Soleimani, “a reckless escalation.”
“Given Trump’s awful record on foreign policy I’m extremely concerned that he has not prepared for the fallout, which could put more American lives at risk,” he tweeted.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley blasted the airstrike decision, saying it was risking U.S. national security and Middle East stability.
“There is no question that Soleimani was a dangerous enemy of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the President has the authority to launch a drone strike against him without authorization of Congress,” he tweeted.
In a series of tweets, the Democrat representing Oregon’s 1st District said that while the events transpiring the past few days in Iraq are “deeply troubling,” she is concerned with the Trump administration’s apparent lack of communication with Congress for the military action.
“The President and his national security team have not articulated a long-term strategy,” Suzanne Bonamici said. “They have neither justified the risky and inflammatory action they have already taken nor demonstrated that they are pursuing the best course of action to keep our troops and our country safe.”
Oregon’s longest-serving congressman, Democrat Peter DeFazio, warned that Trump’s order will have consequences across the region.
“Congress must assert its Constitutionally-granted war powers to ensure the US does not become mired in yet another endless war,” DeFazio tweeted Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer condemned the airstrike decision in a Thursday night tweet.
“Starting by withdrawing from a treaty that Iran had honored, Trump has now launched us on a reckless program of brinkmanship with Iran,” he said. “In the interest of national security, Congress needs to reassert its constitutional responsibility here.”
Oregon’s lone Republican congressman, Greg Walden, called for a full congressional briefing on the airstrike.
“General Qassem Soleimani was the mastermind behind some of the deadliest terrorist attacks on American men & women who wore our nation’s uniform,” Walden tweeted, adding, ” It’s obvious Iran will respond and America must be vigilant. It’s important that Congress gets a full briefing on the situation and the Administration’s strategy going forward.”
Washington’s senior U.S. senator said she voted against the Iraq war because she felt the administration of President George W. Bush didn’t have “clear plans or goals,” and that while she “wholeheartedly” agrees that Soleimani was “an enemy of the U.S.,” she still concerned about the path the Trump administration has put the country on as a result of the airstrike.
“In decisions of war and safety our country must come first,” Murray said in a series of tweets. “Regardless of party, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should now be demanding the President provide his legal justification for this action … and explain how he will manage the consequences of his decision with the goal of protecting Americans, our allies, and our interests.”
Washington’s other senator also released a statement Friday on the killing of Soleimani by a US airstrike.
“No one wants to see an escalation with Iran,” she said. “The President needs a strategy that involves working with our allies to find a diplomatic solution for the region. The President also needs to brief Congress on the intelligence that led to this strike, as well as the plan to protect Americans and allies from the repercussions of his actions.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-2nd) said in a series of tweets that Trump’s actions “foreshadow even more involvement in the region,” even as the president says he wants to withdraw U.S. forces from the region.
“The administration can try to make the argument there was some imminent threat that warranted the airstrikes, but it has shared no evidence with Congress, has ratcheted up tensions with Iran, and done so without any legal authority that I can find,” he said, adding that he had “low expectations” for satisfying questions from members of Congress about the decision.
“This administration dangerously doubles down on reckless military brinkmanship,” Seattle’s congresswoman tweeted out.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal also questioned how the Trump administration planned to keep U.S. troops and civilians in the region safe amid the rising tensions with Iran.
The Evergreen State’s 4th Congressional District representative, Dan Newhouse, defended the Trump administration’s decision, calling Soleimani “an enemy of the United States, and his death signifies American strength against his threats, attacks, and acts of global terrorism.”
Newhouse added that he will monitor developments “as it plays out.”
KOIN 6 has reached out to southwest Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.