DALLAS – U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the United States should lead an effort to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
“Yes, he’s been the problem. He’s been the magnet for the Sunni extremists coming into Syria. He’s been the architect of the civil war. With him in power, we cannot reach a peaceful settlement,” said McCaul to WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics on Friday. “I think it’s time for Assad to go.”
McCaul was pressed on whether the U.S. should use diplomacy or its military to remove Assad.
“I think it would be better to be a negotiated political settlement to exile him from power and then put a form of government in place but it’s going to take a combination of hard and soft power to accomplish this,” he explained. “I think there’s an opportunity to work with Russia to remove Assad from power and put a more Democratic form of government in place. It’s not going to be easy but we have to resolve this civil war conflict. The former president sat back for four and a half years and allowed this to fester and grow.”
President Trump ordered a missile strike against a Syrian air base on Thursday night. That is the location from which Syria launched Tuesday’s attack with chemical weapons. Video of the aftermath showed children choking on the deadly gas and parents holding lifeless bodies of infants.
“If a red line is crossed and you do use chemical weapons to kill children there will be a consequence to pay for that,” said McCaul.
This is the second time that Assad has ordered banned chemical weapons to be used against his own people as that country’s civil war enters its seventh year.
An estimated 400,000 civilians have died and half of the country’s population has been displaced as Assad brutally attempts to hang on to power.
President Obama implemented air strikes against ISIS terrorists operating in that country.
Despite the use of the sarin gas attack on Tuesday which killed almost 89 people, McCaul said President Trump should not lift his executive order and again allow Syrian refugees to flee here.
Still, McCaul added that Trump should get congressional approval before any further use of force in Syria.
“I think he should be working with the Congress to authorize use of military force like this in Syria and I think he will get that.”
Here are more excerpts of reaction from the Texas congressional delegation to the Syrian missile strikes:
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio:
“The Assad regime’s repeated chemical attacks on its own citizens are war crimes and indisputably horrific, but Congress plays an important role in authorizing military force. I continue to believe that Congress must authorize any additional use of force against the Syrian government.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:
“Bashar al-Assad is a monster, a puppet of Russia and Iran, and he has once again used chemical weapons against his own citizens, murdering innocent men, women, and children. Our prayers are with Assad’s victims, and with the victims of the ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists ripping Syria apart. I look forward to our Commander-in-Chief making the case to Congress and the American people how we should do so in the days ahead.”
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth:
“I cannot more strongly applaud President Trump's decisive actions against the Government of Syria. For years, we have watched as the Syrian people endured unimaginable atrocities at the hand of their own government. The world cannot allow this type of evil to go unchecked. Tonight, the United States has shown we are ready to lead the fight.”
U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Rockwall:
“The Assad regime’s horrific attack on innocent civilians earlier this week was in complete defiance of international law barring the use of chemical weapons. I applaud President Trump for his decision to call for a military strike on the airfield where this chemical attack was launched. His action was an appropriate, direct and proportional response to this heinous assault on innocent life. Through his decisive action, the president has signaled a clear departure from the many years of failed policies that have allowed for further destabilization in the Middle East.”
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, Chairman of the House Rules Committee:
“Yesterday the President made it clear that we will not stand idly by while Bashar al-Assad barbarically uses chemical weapons to take the lives of innocent men, women, and children. President Trump’s decision to launch a targeted airstrike on the airfield where Assad launched the deadly chemical attack on Monday shows a strength and responsibility that we have not seen in eight years. While the complexity of the situation in Syria grows daily, I believe this is a solid first step and I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to hold the Assad regime accountable for its heinous actions.”
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth:
“Despite my support for the goals of last night’s airstrike, the crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes. It is imperative that President Trump consults with Congress about the long-term strategy in Syria, the repercussions of last night’s actions, and any future planned military operations. With last night’s actions, it is urgent that Congress debate the need to update the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to reflect the global threats abroad. When Congress enacted AUMF in 2001, the world was not operating under the threat of ISIS, Russia’s aggression in Europe, provocations by North Korea, and violations of missile treaties. That is why Congress must now debate how these new realities will shape any updated authorizations for future military actions.”