Colorado’s Congressional Delegation Is Divided On The Death Of Qasem Soleimani

Photos by Kevin J. Beaty and Alyson McClaren for Denverite and Nathaniel Minor for CPR News
Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter.

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are weighing in on President Donald Trump’s order to kill Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.

A U.S. airstrike killed the Iranian general outside of the Baghdad airport in Iraq early Friday Iraqi time.

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Department of Defense said.

Soleimani had planned and coordinated attacks against Americans in the Middle East during his long tenure as head of the Quds Force.

However, some members have raised concerns that Congress was not notified ahead of time and over how this move fits into a broader Middle East policy.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Democrat)

“I think this was a terribly reckless and provocative act. It’s the latest in a long string of non-strategic choices that Donald Trump has made in the Middle East, that has weakened our position in the Middle East, that has strengthened Iran’s position in the Middle East. And I think you couldn’t be more naive to believe that this was going to result somehow in Iran coming to the negotiating table, rather than creating the potential for another war — which is the last thing we need in the Middle East.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (Republican)

“I commend the Administration for taking this decisive action today in Baghdad against Tehran-backed terrorists. The world should not mourn Qassem Soleimani, a man whose name is synonymous with murder in the Middle East and who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American service members. I now urge the Administration to be prepared for possible retaliation, including against U.S. troops stationed in the region, and to consult closely with Congress on any next steps should the situation escalate. I hope Iran will realize its future depends on stopping its support of terrorism.”

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1, Democrat)

“I’m deeply concerned by the escalation of violence with Iran that occurred overnight. Congress has the sole constitutional authority to declare war. And while Iran continues to pose a serious threat to our nation’s security, and our interests abroad, no one wants to see America drawn back into a decades-long war in the Middle East.

“Earlier this year, I voted to solidify Congress’ role in authorizing the use of military force. The type of reckless action that the Trump administration just carried out – without any input from the legislative branch – is exactly what we were trying to prevent.

“Congress must be briefed immediately on this situation. We need to know exactly why the administration authorized this attack, and how it plans to protect Americans at home and abroad from its aftermath.

“During these dangerous and uncertain times, I’m praying for the safety of our U.S. service members and diplomats around the world.”

Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-2, Democrat)

"Only Congress has the power to declare war.  The President’s unilateral decision to launch this airstrike, yet again, comes without consultation or caution and signals the need for clarification of the Authorization of Military Force. That is precisely why I voted in support of a bipartisan amendment earlier this year that would have avoided a dangerous escalation with Iran by preventing federal funds from being used for any military force in or against Iran without congressional authorization.

Congress must reassert its constitutional obligations under Article I without further delay. And the Administration must consult Congress, as required by law, on both the airstrike and the next steps necessary to keep our country and service."

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-3, Republican)

“Gen. Qassem Soleimani rose to power by targeting and killing Americans. He organized and provided resources to terrorists in Iraq, and was behind the groups actively attacking the US Embassy in Baghdad this week. We will not tolerate attacks on our citizens by murderous terrorists. I applaud the administration’s swift action to take Soleimani out, the world will be safer without him."

Rep. Ken Buck (CO-4, Republican)

No comment at this time.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5, Republican)

“Soleimani was the chief architect of Iran’s reign of terror throughout the Middle East. He ordered the attacks on our bases last week that resulted in four injured troops and one dead American, the storming of our embassy—our sovereign territory, and was actively planning more attacks on Americans throughout the region. Both Presidents Bush and Obama squandered opportunities to bring Soleimani to justice, which should have been done long ago. 

Those in Congress who are carping about not being consulted beforehand did not voice those same concerns when President Obama took out Osama bin Laden without prior Congressional consultation, so there is no reason to listen to these complaints now. I applaud President Trump’s decision and the extraordinary skill and professionalism of the men and women who executed his orders. Let us all pray for their safety in the days ahead.”

Rep. Ed Perlmuter (CO-6, Democrat)

No comment at this time.

Rep. Jason Crow (CO-7, Democrat)

“The question is not whether Qasem Soleimani was a threat to the United States, the question is whether President Trump has a strategy in place to deal with the potentially seismic events that he has unleashed. My time serving as a paratrooper in Iraq taught me that using force without a strategy and clearly defined goals rarely ends well.   

“While we are still learning details about what occurred, one thing is clear: only Congress can declare war and the President has not sought any such authorization. In July, I was proud to stand with colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to prohibit the Administration from entering into a conflict with Iran without proper congressional authorization. The President must explain his policy towards Iran and give the American people confidence that we have a coherent strategy for protecting our embassies, our troops, and our national security.  

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I’ll be asking the hard questions of this Administration to make sure we are supporting our diplomats and service members, ensuring a strong national defense, and using force as the last resort.”