WASHINGTON – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities for the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking for information about what the U.S. military is preparing to do in response to the future use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Senator Ernst writes, “Like yourself, I find President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, especially against his own civilian population, to be abhorrent and a violation of international law. As the world’s most powerful nation, I believe the U.S. must take a strong stance against such egregious actions, and I commend you for your efforts to deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.”

She went on to say, “While I have supported previous uses of military force against the Syrian government, I am increasingly concerned about U.S. military action not authorized by the 2001 and 2003 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) or the War Powers Resolution.

“I respectfully request additional communication by the Department of Defense (DoD) regarding its decision-making and congressional notification process when considering military action outside of an existing Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).”

To read the full letter, click here.


In 2017, the U.S. conducted targeted missile strikes against the Syrian government following the use of chemical weapons by the regime. In April of 2018, the U.S., along with France and the United Kingdom, again struck Syrian government facilities in response to their use of chemical weapons. Recently, U.S. leaders have signaled to Assad that there would be grave consequences, including potential military action, should Syria continue the use chemical weapons. This included a statement from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford, that the DoD has prepared military options for the president should Syria use chemical weapons.