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striking support

Lawmakers rally behind U.S., U.K. strikes on Houthis in Yemen

Democrats highlighted the need for diplomacy, while Republicans described the strikes as overdue and likely insufficient; fringe members of both parties claimed the strikes were illegal

MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images

In this handout image provided by the U.K. Ministry of Defence, an RAF Typhoon aircraft returns to berth following a strike mission on Yemen's Houthi rebels at RAF Akrotiri on January 12, 2024, in Akrotiri, Cyprus.

Top lawmakers on both sides of the aisle largely expressed support for the U.S. strikes on Houthi targets inside Yemen on Thursday evening, in response to weeks of attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea.

The administration carried out the strikes in conjunction with the United Kingdom and other international partners that have joined the U.S.-led international coalition to protect shipping lanes in the Red Sea from Houthi attacks. The move comes as some lawmakers had begun to demand stronger action against the Yemeni militant group.

“I salute the brave military members who carried out today’s strikes, and I support President Biden’s strong actions against the Houthi militants,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-RI) said in a statement. “The Houthis are endangering innocent civilians and launching violent attacks at U.S. personnel.”

Reed and other top Democrats, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Greg Meeks (D-NY), also highlighted the importance of continued diplomacy ahead of and in the wake of Thursday’s strikes.

Republicans, meanwhile, described the strikes as overdue and likely insufficient.

“I welcome the U.S. and coalition operations against the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists responsible for violently disrupting international commerce in the Red Sea and attacking American vessels,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement. “President Biden’s decision to use military force against these Iranian proxies is overdue.”

McConnell said the strikes should “mark an enduring shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies” to show Iranian leaders “that they will pay a meaningful price unless they abandon their worldwide campaign of terror.”

Those sentiments were echoed by many of his GOP colleagues, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). Some, like House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) also emphasized the need to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Jewish communal groups including AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee also voiced support for the strikes.

Meanwhile, Biden faced some pushback from far-left and hard-right lawmakers, who claimed that the strikes went beyond constitutional presidential war powers and were illegal without congressional authorization. Those allegations which are unlikely to hold water.

“[Biden] is violating Article I of the Constitution by carrying out airstrikes in Yemen without congressional approval,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) said. “The American people are tired of endless war.”

“On[c]e again, President Biden acting without constitutional authority,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) agreed. “Only Congress can authorize military action like this.”

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