On Feb. 2, 2024, U.S. warplanes struck more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria in response to the Jan. 28 drone strike that killed three American soldiers in northern Jordan. The facilities were used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and affiliated militias responsible for more than 160 attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq since the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Republican members of Congress criticized the Biden administration for doing too little too late. But Democrats lauded the first round of strikes as a calibrated response aimed at deterring Iran and its allies while avoiding escalation. The following are Congressional reactions organized by party.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA)
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “The tragic deaths of three U.S. troops in Jordan, perpetrated by Iran-backed militias, demanded a clear and forceful response. Unfortunately, the administration waited for a week and telegraphed to the world, including to Iran, the nature of our response… The public handwringing and excessive signaling undercuts our ability to put a decisive end to the barrage of attacks endured over the past few months.”
Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “After almost a week, today’s strikes are long overdue following a delay that allowed our enemies to prepare. The Biden admin must be decisive with sustained retaliatory strikes and begin to enforce oil and other sanctions to cut off the source of terror funding.”
Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “These military strikes are welcome, but come far too late for the three brave Americans who died and the nearly 50 wounded. Iran and its proxies have tried to kill American soldiers and sink our warships 165 times while the Biden administration congratulates itself for doing the bare minimum. Instead of giving the Ayatollah the bloody nose that he deserves, we continue to give him a slap on the wrist.
“The Biden administration spent nearly a week foolishly telegraphing U.S. intentions to our adversaries, giving them time to relocate and hide. It is past time for our commander-in-chief to adopt a new approach that targets the actual sponsors of terrorism in the region.”
Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Member of the Foreign Relations Committee
Feb. 3, 2024 on X: “To restore effective deterrence, President Biden must hit Iran where it hurts. Weak, telegraphed responses will not cut it. We need leadership, not appeasement.”
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Member of the Foreign Relations Committee
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “Retaliatory strikes are not deterrence; we need a holistic strategy to stop Iran now and in the future. To start, no more Biden bucks sent to Iran that it turns around and uses it to attack the US and our allies.”
Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “To stop attacks on Americans, Iran must know its support for terrorist proxies comes with a heavy price. These strikes, announced well in advance, likely did not accomplish nearly enough to stop Iran’s axis. Whatever next steps the President takes must be significantly stronger.”
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “The administration’s strikes tonight against Iran’s proxies came far too late and after telegraphing how we would attack.
“Only further, more devastating attacks against Iranian forces will scare the ayatollahs.”
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “Finally.
“Iran needs to know the price for American lives.”
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “The Biden administration’s response to these attacks—delayed for almost a week, and now signaling where our military will and will not strike—has been disastrous to the point of being dangerous.
What would be more effective is to send the message to Iran’s leadership that if the Houthis continue to use Iranian missiles and Iranian intelligence from Iranian spy ships to target U.S. Navy vessels in the Red Sea, we will sink those Iranian spy ships. That is how you begin to reestablish deterrence. The Biden administration needs a sustained, multi-faceted strategy that also focuses on non-military actions—in particular, reimposing the comprehensive sanctions against the Iranian oil and gas sector that proved to be so effective during the Trump administration.”
Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “When Iran reared its head in 1988, Ronald Reagan sunk their Navy. When the IRGC again threatened Americans, President Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani. Deterrence isn’t delayed half-measures. Deterrence is taking the head off the snake.” –
Senator Ted Budd (R-NC), Member of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “The retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy targets are certainly warranted, but the fact that they were delayed and telegraphed makes them less likely to deter Iran and their proxies from their attacks on U.S. service members.”
Representative Michael Turner (R-OH), Member of the Armed Services Committee
Feb. 4, 2024 on CBS Face the Nation: “This is a problem … They keep saying that they want to, you know, retaliate, but then they say it’s about deterrence, then they say it’s about diminishing capabilities. Those are all different goals and objectives. And they’re not doing any of those. We all know that this is just about Iran. These are all franchises of Iran.
Today, @HouseIntel RM @JAHimes and I discussed the Biden Administration’s response to the drone strike that killed three U.S. service members on @FaceTheNation.
I told @MargBrennan that President Biden needs to create a real plan that diminishes the capacities of Iran’s proxies. pic.twitter.com/oX7NxMEcf5
— US Rep. Mike Turner (@RepMikeTurner) February 4, 2024
“And the administration has no policy with respect to Iran, how to diminish their capability, diminish these attacks and diminish their nefarious activities in the Middle East… The administration needs two things: a real plan with respect to Iran and countering Iran in the area. But secondly, diminishing capacity to stop these attacks. We can’t play defense forever.
“Our systems to protect our troops and our ships cannot continue to respond to these attacks with 100 percent success. Tolerating the attacks, tolerates casualties. We need to diminish their capability, and we need to take this problem to Iran.”
Representative Austin Scott (R-GA), Member of the Armed Services Committee
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “I applaud the bravery and skill of @CENTCOM, who carried out multiple airstrikes against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups today.
“Those who strike against the U.S. will face consequences.”
Representative Jim Banks (R-IN), Member of the Armed Services Committee
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “The Iranians did not warn our forces before killing them. These strikes are better than nothing, but they are too little and five days too late.”
Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Member of the Armed Services Committee
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “Biden’s failure to isolate the regime in Iran, annihilate Hamas, and support our strategic partners in the Middle East has emboldened the enemies of freedom to target, attack, and murder US troops.
“President Biden is weak and our enemies know it. His misguided foreign policy has invited these attacks against the United States. In fact, Biden lifted President Trump’s sanctions on Iran which were among the most effective in history. Oil sanctions need to be immediately reimposed on the Iranian regime and Biden should’ve taken action much sooner to adequately deter further attacks from Iran & its terrorist proxies.”
Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC), Member of the Armed Services Committee
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “Once again, this President has circumvented Congress and put our troops in danger.
“One soldier’s life lost is one too many, let alone three.
“Our troops need to come home. Our president needs to follow the constitution.”
Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Feb. 2, 2024 on X: “I will be very interested to receive briefings on whether the telegraphing of these strikes over the past week by the Admin has allowed targets to escape or harden themselves.
It’s a huge expenditure of precision munitions from increasingly depleted stockpiles that are needed in the Indo-Pacific. All bc of a failed Iran policy.”
Representative Mike Lawler (R-NY), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “Iran and its proxies received a thunderous response this evening to their hundreds of attacks on US troops over the last few months. They must be made to understand that for each American life taken, a heavy price will be paid by those that took it.
“We must continue to ramp up the pressure on Iran and its terror groups across the Middle East. However, these efforts must include additional sanctions on Iranian oil, which is what allows Iran to fund its campaign of violence and terror across the region.
I am hopeful that Senator Schumer and President Biden will embrace this whole-of-government strategy when it comes to confronting Iran and pass the SHIP Act, which passed through the House months ago. Only through concerted sanctions, coupled with decisive military action, can the terror campaign waged by Iran be brought to heel.”
Representative Rich McCormick (R-GA), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Feb. 3, 2024 on X: “Iran should be punished strategically, economically, and financially. This administration has to STOP displaying weakness to our enemies.
“How many more of our own soldiers need to be put unnecessarily into harms way before they wake up?
“All options should be on the table when dealing with terrorist countries like this.
“Let’s finish this.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Member of the Committee on Foreign Relations
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “I’m heartbroken that three servicemembers were killed last weekend in an Iran-backed attack, and I’m devastated for their families, who will never be able to hold their loved ones close again. Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett were heroes. As someone who knows what it’s like to sacrifice in an ill-considered war, I know it’s critical to the safety of American troops in harms’ way overseas that our response is strategic and thoughtful, not rash and hot-headed.
“While I look forward to being briefed on the Administration’s strategy in more detail, today’s airstrikes in Iraq and Syria look to me to be the first stage in a well-thought-out, strong and measured campaign aimed at deterring further Iran-supported attacks on our troops without risking an escalation that could lead to yet another protracted war in the Middle East. In one of the most dangerous moments for the region we’ve seen in decades, our nation’s strategy must be focused on reducing, not increasing, the threat of war and the Administration must keep Congress well-informed of its plans and seek authorization where required by law.
“I want to remind some of my Republican colleagues who’ve recklessly beat the drums of war in recent days that the cost of war is not solely measured in dollars and cents, it is paid for with American blood as well. If the Republican Senators who’ve advocated strikes that increase the risk of war believe that’s the correct response, then they owe it the servicemembers whose safety they are putting at further risk to bring an AUMF to the floor and start that debate. At least then, our troops downrange would be able to know what their mission is, what their goals are and that their leaders in Washington both have their backs and are following the Constitution.”
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 2, 2024 statement: “This was a strong, proportional response. In fact, the 85 targets struck tonight mark a greater number than the prior administration. Iran’s proxy forces in Syria and Iraq have been dealt a significant blow, and Iranian-linked militias around the Middle East should understand that they, too, will be held accountable.
“I salute the brave U.S. military members who carried out today’s strikes, and I support President Biden’s robust action. These strikes, in concert with wise diplomacy, send a clear signal that the United States will continue to take appropriate action to protect our personnel and our interests.
“I am confident the Biden Administration will continue to respond and safeguard the American people.”
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), Member of the Committee on Foreign Relations
Feb. 3, 2024 statement: “This morning, I stood with President Biden, Secretary Austin, U.S. military leaders and a bipartisan congressional delegation from Georgia and Delaware at a dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base as we paid our respects to the three American servicemembers killed in Jordan and their grieving families. Iran and their proxies across the Middle East are now seeing the first wave of our response to their attack. U.S. bombers struck 85 targets in Syria and Iraq associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and associated militias. The U.S. will act against those who harm Americans, and I will work with our president to support his efforts as our nation’s response continues in the coming days.”