Sen. Joni Ernst: Trump Must Work with Congress If He Wants to Go Further Than Air Strikes

By Melanie Arter | April 16, 2018 | 11:14 AM EDT

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

( – Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that she’s “comfortable” with the U.S. launching air strikes without congressional authorization against Syria Friday, but President Donald Trump needs to come to Congress before further military action is taken.

Ernst said she was “glad” that Trump joined multinational effort by including France and the U.K. in the airstrikes.


“I think it was important that we destroy that infrastructure that Bashar al-Assad had used to deliver chemical weapons against his own people So I am glad that we've taken this step. Of course we need to now have discussions on what should happen in the future,” she said.

NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out that when the U.S. launched missile strikes in Syria last year, Ernst said that “going forward” the notification of military action needs to go through Congress, and if the president wants further action, he needs to bring “that specific plan with his reasoning to Congress before we move forward.”

When asked whether she was “comfortable” with Trump working multilaterally with France and the U.K., but unilaterally by not notifying Congress, Ernst said, “Well, I am uncomfortable going forward if he wishes to commit ground troops in the area. Currently we do have an effort to fight against ISIS in the region, and that is our main focus.

“This is secondary to that, but certainly if he wishes to go any further, he does need to work with Congress,” the congresswoman added.

“So the air strikes, I'm comfortable at this point with that, but as many of my colleagues have also stated we need a new AUMF. We need to address this situation, and the president does need to come to Congress, and we need to have those discussions,” Ernst said.

“So for now I am comfortable with the actions that he took with Great Britain and France, but, again, we need to have these discussions, because we don't see that Bashar al-Assad will all of a sudden become a real nice guy,” she added.

Meanwhile, Trump criticized President Barack Obama in 2013 for not seeking congressional approval before attacking Syria, the New York Times reported.

“What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval,” Trump tweeted at the time.

“The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!” Trump tweeted in 2013.

Todd asked Ernst what she thought of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) fear that the air strikes will be seen as “a weak military response and Assad will have paid a small price for using chemical weapons yet again,” because we didn’t take out all of Assad’s chemical weapon capabilities.

“Well, I think we do need to find a way to make sure that Syria is rid of all of its chemical weapons. They are not sticking to the chemical weapons convention. We know that for a fact now, so we do need to address the situation, but we need to have a broader discussion,” Ernst said.

“I am pleased that we have partnership with France and Great Britain, but we do have to, as a United States military, figure out a way forward. Make sure that we have destroyed the capabilities that Bashar al-Assad has to take these chemical weapons against his own people. So he is a war criminal, and we need to have a very strong and resolute action in regards to the situation,” she said.


Sponsored Links