Representative Tom Reed (R-NY23) has issued a statement regarding last night's airstrike killing of Iranian senior military official Qasem Soleimani, applauding President Donald Trump's decision to strike but warning that Congress must vote on further action.
The killing of Soleimani, reportedly a close advisor to Iran's leader Ayatollah Khomeini and arguably the second most powerful person in the country, has been seen universally as a significant escalation of tension between the United States and Iran. Reactions have been predictably split domestically, with Democrats largely denouncing the action (while condemning Soleimani's record of supporting terrorism) and Republicans mostly siding with the president's move. Reed chose a fairly down-the-middle approach with his statement.
“Soleimani had American blood on his hands," Reed said in a statement provided by his office. "I appreciate President Trump's swift action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for their acts of terror against Americans. I also appreciate the President's decision not to commit the mistake of prior administrations when they failed to seize the moment and take out dangerous threats like Osama Bin Laden – who was able to lead the heinous acts of 9/11."
Reed continued, though, that further action, including any potential dedication of troops to a long-term conflict in the country or region, should be voted on by Congress instead of carried out unilaterally by the president. His framing here is interesting, characterizing use of the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolutions as political cowardice on the part of Congress but not necessarily taking a stance on future military action against Iran.
"However, if the situation with Iran escalates further and requires a large increase or long-term commitment of our military men and women, Congress must not hide behind the outdated Authorizations of Military Force resolutions," Reed said. "I have and will continue to chastise Congress for being political cowards on these matters. I demand Congress do its job and vote on the appropriate resolution which would either deny or authorize the use of such military force.”
Reed previously voted in favor of an amendment on the National Defense Authorization Act in July that would have prevented federal funds from being used to engage in a war with Iran. That amendment was not eventually enacted.
It's unclear who or how many members of Congress were notified of the president's decision to strike before it happened. Reed's office stated that he had not been told about the operation before it happened. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated that he had been briefed before the operation.