SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation called Monday for a U.S. response to the apparent chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians as President Donald Trump was weighing his options.
“This chemical attack is just the latest example of the barbarism and cruelty of the Assad regime,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said of the attack Saturday that killed at least 40 people, including children, in the Middle East country torn by civil war.
Hatch said he has “full confidence” that Trump’s response “will show (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and his backers that the United States is serious about stopping such atrocities and ensuring that its perpetrators pay a price.”
The president, who was expected to announce what action the United States will take as soon as Monday evening, said “everybody’s going to pay a price,” including Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of Assad’s strongest supporters.
Rep. John Curtis said he is “appalled by the shocking images of men, women and children choking and foaming at the mouth.” He said the Assad regime “has once again violated international law by using chemical weapons on its own people.”
Curtis said as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he believes “our government must keep all of our options open to strongly respond to this horrific, heinous, and illegal attack on innocent civilians.”
Both Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Mia Love made it clear they believe Congress has to have a role in any military response.
“The use of chemical weapons absolutely requires a response from the United States,” Lee said. “But if that response is going to include military force, the president of the United States should come to Congress and ask for authorization before military force is used.”
Love said that “notably, Congress must take the lead in crafting, and approve of, any military involvement going forward.”
She called the news out of Syria “absolutely heartbreaking. I shudder to think of what Bashar al-Assad and his backers in Iran and Syria may have done had Israel not destroyed Syria’s nuclear facility in 2007.”
Love said with more than 200 chemical attacks against civilians documented in Syria since 2012, the United States “must act decisively in leading international efforts to prevent further slaughter and work with and strengthen our allies such as Israel.”
Rep. Rob Bishop did not respond to requests for comment. Rep. Chris Stewart is out of the country and unavailable.