How Congress Is Reacting to Biden’s Military Attack on the Houthis in Yemen

Bianca Echa

How Congress Is Reacting to Biden’s Military Attack on the Houthis in Yemen

The U.S. and U.K.’s coordinated strikes Thursday evening on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels that have been wreaking havoc on international shipping routes in the Red Sea for weeks has been met with mostly bipartisan congressional support but some concerns over President Joe Biden’s seemingly unilateral executive action. 

The two countries’ militaries targeted Houthi-controlled sites in Yemen in a series of bombings, with Biden warning in a White House statement that he will not hesitate “to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

Senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle have lauded the Biden administration’s decision to operate against the Houthi militia, while a few members of Congress have expressed concern over lack of congressional oversight. 

Here are some of the reactions from the Capitol so far:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

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. President Biden’s decision to use military force against these Iranian proxies is overdue.

I am hopeful these operations mark an enduring shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies. To restore deterrence and change Iran’s calculus, Iranian leaders themselves must believe that they will pay a meaningful price unless they abandon their worldwide campaign of terror.

The United States and our allies must leave no room to doubt that the days of unanswered terrorist aggression are over.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif. 17)

The President’s strikes in Yemen are unconstitutional. For over a month, he consulted an international coalition to plan them, but never came to Congress to seek authorization as required by Article I of the Constitution. We need to listen to our Gulf allies, pursue de-escalation, and avoid getting into another Middle East war.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

This strike was two months overdue, but it is a good first step toward restoring deterrence in the Red Sea. 

I appreciate that the administration took the advice of our regional commanders and targeted critical nodes within Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory. It is important that we follow this action in close consultation with our Saudi partners to ensure they are with us as the situation develops. 

This strike does not change the basic facts: for weeks, the Houthis have launched drones and missiles at our sailors, while the Biden administration has trumpeted a maritime task force. The Houthi organization, backed by Iran, has for weeks wrought havoc without any significant response.

They have disrupted global shipping in a critical commercial sea lane and targeted sophisticated Navy warships. This is having a severe impact on our military and the global economy.

It is time to dispense with the hollow talk of “joint resolutions” and “maritime task forces.

This strike should be a warning to the Houthis and other Iranian proxies that they will suffer catastrophic consequences from escalation in the region.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

I salute the brave military members who carried out today’s strikes, and I support President Biden’s strong actions against the Houthi militants. The Houthis are endangering innocent civilians and launching violent attacks at U.S. personnel.

These strikes, in concert with weeks of diplomacy, send a clear signal that the United States will continue to take appropriate action to protect our personnel, our interests, and freedom of navigation for vital international waterways. Even as the Biden Administration continues to take a balanced and sensible diplomatic approach, today’s military actions were necessary and proportional.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.)

Tonight’s military action against Yemen is overdue, and we must now maintain pressure on the Iranian-backed Houthis to ensure their lawless behavior is met with severe consequences. 

The constant attacks on our sailors and on commercial shipping over the past months should have been addressed far earlier. Our response to this malign behavior – which has no purpose other than to sow chaos and disorder at the behest of Iran – must be decisive. It is incumbent upon the President to come to Congress and present the Administration’s strategy for confronting Iran’s reckless behavior across the region.

I applaud the brave men and women in uniform who executed this mission and thank our allies and partners.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y. 05)

I support the Biden Administration’s targeted strikes against Houthi militant targets within Yemen this evening. I condemn the continued, unprovoked Houthi attacks against commercial shipping and personnel which must immediately cease along with provocative launches and actions against Israel. 

While I support these targeted, proportional military strikes, I call on the Biden Administration to continue its diplomatic efforts to avoid escalation to a broader regional war and continue to engage Congress on the details of its strategy and legal basis as required by law.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Iran and its proxies must understand that repeated attacks on U.S. troops and the disruption of critical sea lanes will not be tolerated. The military strikes taken tonight by the Administration in conjunction with coalition partners is an overdue response to Iranian-backed proxies that have targeted U.S. military personnel, bases, and ships more than 120 times since October, resulting in a gravely injured service member. In addition, the Houthi terrorists have launched dozens of attacks on commercial, non-military ships of multiple countries.

The United States does not seek an escalation of violence in the region, but we must deter attacks on our troops, and the freedom of navigation that is essential for global trade must be restored.

Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Ore. 04)

These airstrikes have NOT been authorized by Congress. The Constitution is clear: Congress has the sole authority to authorize military involvement in overseas conflicts. Every president must first come to Congress and ask for military authorization, regardless of party.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis. 02)

The United States cannot risk getting entangled into another decades-long conflict without Congressional authorization. The White House must work with Congress before continuing these airstrikes in Yemen.

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo. 06)

I would not support us being pulled into a broader war.

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