In this image provided by the White House, President Donald Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team after the strike at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday night, April 6, 2017. (White House via AP)
In this image provided by the White House, President Donald Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team after the strike at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday night, April 6, 2017. (White House via AP)

Iowa senators switch on Syrian strike

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By Anna Kayser

anna-kayser@uiowa.com

On April 8, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted in support of President Trump’s strike on a Syrian airbase in response to Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s domestic chemical attack, but in September 2013, he opposed a similar action under the Obama administration.

In a 2013 press release, Grassley said he didn’t think the case for using military action had been made and that perhaps a diplomatic offer from Russia regarding the forceful overturning of Assad’s chemical weapons was in order. He said military action should be the last option.

This month, Grassley’s tweet read, “For the good reason of supporting International law against Chemical warfare by hit at Syria He also showed detractors he not Putin puppet GET IT.”Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 5.02.23 PM

“President Trump’s decision was to strike one airfield that was the source of the chemical weapons attack to prevent Assad from doing it again. President Obama was contemplating a more significant military action, but the goal, strategy, and plan were unclear,” Grassley Press Secretary Jill Gerber wrote in an email. “Congress and the American people deserve details on the mission and the plan to achieve it before entering into a possible long-term conflict, regardless of which president is in the White House.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN that she thought Trump made a good call in giving the go-ahead of the strike.

In a press release from Ernst’s office, she said, “Unlike the Obama administration, the Trump administration is showing global leadership, and we must work to find an end to the root causes of this crisis.”

Trump tweeted in 2013 that it would be a mistake for President Obama not to get congressional approval before initiating a strike on Syria, sparking controversy over whether he has switched sides on this issue. He did not get congressional approval before striking Syria last week.

“I can’t speak for the folks in 2013, or for the then-citizen Trump’s comments; however, I can say that I do think it was appropriate, he did involve discussions with members of Congress as well as his national-security team,” Ernst said on CNN. “I do believe in this specific instance that the president made the appropriate call.”

In 2013, Ernst opposed striking Syria because she didn’t think Obama had made a good enough case. Now, she thinks Trump laid out better reasoning about why the attack was justified.

“He has laid out the case, humanitarian atrocities, of course, the use of the chemical weapons, but we also have ISIS engaged in that region, and we simply don’t want to see chemicals fall into the hands of ISIS operators,” Ernst said on CNN.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, has the same position now that he did in 2013.

“I have called on the president to seek congressional authorization but more importantly, before any action is taken, the administration must make the case to the American people, and the American people must support it,” Loebsack said in a 2013 press release.

In the past week, he has called on Trump to do the same thing.

“I remain very concerned that he does not have a plan moving forward, and before any further military action in Syria, President Trump must present a comprehensive plan to Congress, but most importantly, to the American people,” Loebsack said in a release.