Congress reacts to Iran attack on U.S. forces

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic members of Congress said Tuesday night that they are praying for U.S. forces overseas and that they are monitoring developments following news that Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. military forces in Iraq.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted that the U.S. and the world "cannot afford war."

"Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war," she said.

Pelosi was briefed on the attack against the facilities housing U.S. troops by Vice President Mike Pence, according to Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also received a call from Pence and was briefed at 6:15 p.m., according to a spokesman, who said, "Leader Schumer is closely monitoring the situation & is praying for the safety of our service members & other personnel."

News of the attack in Iraq came after top congressional leaders were briefed in person Tuesday by administration officials about the U.S. strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Defense Department said in a statement Tuesday night that an Iraqi military air base housing U.S. troops in Iraq's Al Anbar province was hit by more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iran on Wednesday local time.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was among the so-called "Gang of Eight" that was briefed. He tweeted Tuesday evening, "With reports of missile strikes launched by Iran against U.S. bases in Iraq, my thoughts and prayers are with our service members, diplomats and other personnel at risk, and with their families."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a staunch opponent of U.S. intervention overseas who has for years advocated passing a new war powers resolution, warned that the U.S. should take action to stop further escalation.

"I am praying for the safety of our troops in Iraq tonight. While I would have preferred they come home long ago, there is also no excuse for this action by Iran. We need to stop the escalation before it leads to another endless war in the Middle East," he tweeted. “In the meantime, the Administration needs to bring any discussion of war with Iran to the American people and their representatives in Congress, as the Constitution requires.”

Similarly, Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., a former Republican, tweeted that Trump has the authority to "repel sudden attacks" but said "any military engagement beyond that requires approval from Congress under our Constitution."

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., tweeted, "Iran's aggression against the US clearly indicates that they continue to want to do harm to Americans & our nation. I am monitoring the situation tonight & I pray for all the servicewomen & men who are defending our nation."

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The killing of Qassem Soleimani
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
IRAQ shaded relief map highlighted with BAGHDAD blast locator, with AIRPORT ATTACK lettering, finished graphic
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani stands at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province March 8, 2015. Picture taken March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT POLITICS PROFILE HEADSHOT)
Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., warned that everyone needs to work to prevent a full-fledged war.

"Closely monitoring reports of Iranian missile attacks on military bases housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Praying for the safety of our men and women in harm's way. All of us need to work to break an escalatory cycle to all-out war."

This comes a day before Congress is expected to receive briefings Wednesday from top administration officials about the situation in Iran and the U.S. decision to kill Soleimani last week.

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