Several members of Long Island’s congressional delegation voiced unequivocal support for President Donald Trump’s missile strike against Syria Thursday night after the regime was accused of a chemical attack that killed more than 80 civilians Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said the world had to hear the message — the use of a chemical weapon by President Bashar Assad would not go unpunished.
“The U.S. had to show leadership here,” said King, chairman of the House counterterrorism panel on the Homeland Security Committee. “We are the world leader, so it was important to take this action and send a message to Russia, that they can’t continue to support Assad.”
Schumer said making sure Assad knows he will pay a price for his actions is “the right thing to do.”
“It is incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it,” the senator said.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) also backed the move because “Assad had shown a willingness in the past to use chemical warfare.” Emphasizing that the missiles were aimed at “infrastructure, not people,” Zeldin also issued a statement saying past “complacency” had destabilized the region and fueled the growth of the Islamic State group.
Suozzi, who is on the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, supported the order, but added that he hopes the president did not make an “emotional” decision and consulted with advisers and U.S. allies beforehand.
“The president is sending a very clear message, that the actions by the Syrian president are an affront to humanity,” the congressman said. “He took a very decisive action.”
Suozzi said he’s more concerned about Russia’s reaction than about Syria striking back at the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has propped up Assad’s regime by sending troops to Syria, ostensibly to fight ISIS but in reality bombing rebel-held territories.
But by striking at Assad, Trump could well resolve the perception that he’s too cozy with the Russian dictator, who hacked into the Democratic Party’s computers to try to influence the presidential election.
“The president has a problem regarding his unusual relationship with the Russians,” Suozzi said, “and this would be a good way to get out from under that.”
King said he’s not too worried about retaliation from Syria, which is in turmoil, and from Russia, struggling under years of economic recession.
But the Republican said a difficult road may be ahead: “If we want Assad out, who do we want in his place, because you don’t want it to be ISIS. I don’t see how Assad would be allowed to remain there.”
With Tom Brune