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Five Michigan lawmakers — four Democrats and one independent — expressed concern that Congress didn't authorize the use of power against Iran after President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. airstrike that killed a key Iranian general.

But four Republican lawmakers from Michigan, including the longest-serving member of the state's congressional delegation, backed the Trump administration's decision to kill Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

The Defense Department said the armed drone attack was justified because Soleimani  was "developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region" and already was "responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members."

Another group of Democrats, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, said the Trump administration needed to consult with Congress on the situation.

First-term Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst who served three tours in Iraq, said she had participated in "countless conversations on how to respond to Qassem Soleimani’s violent campaigns."

"What always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself was the simple question: Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict?" Slotkin added in a Friday statement. "The two administrations I worked for both determined that the ultimate ends didn’t justify the means. The Trump administration has made a different calculation."

While the Trump administration has the right to self defense, she said, it "must come to Congress immediately and consult." If the military engagement is going to be protracted, the administration must request authorization, she added.

From the other side of the aisle, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, who was first elected in 1986, said he supported Trump's decision.

"When Teddy Roosevelt was president, he worked to establish respect for the United States and our strength around the world. The world once again witnessed that strength in taking out an evil man," Upton tweeted. "When our people and our interests are attacked, the United States should swat back."

But Rep. Dan Kildee, the Flint Township Democrat who is a member of the House leadership, questioned the Trump administration's authority for a military strike.

"I am concerned that the Trump administration conducted these air strikes killing high-level Iranian military officials without an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran. Congress was also not consulted on this military attack," Kildee said in a statement.

"The existing AUMF was authorized by Congress almost two decades ago to hold those responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I have long asserted, under President Obama and now President Trump, that the commander-in-chief cannot continue to conduct any military actions they see fit under the existing AUMF."

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, stopped short of directly questioning the use of power, but said she deeply feared "the consequences of this action, which was made without consulting Congress, or our allies and partners in the region." But Dingell said any further "escalation of U.S. military involvement requires congressional authorization." 

By 6 p.m., 12 of the 16 lawmakers who represent Michigan in the U.S. House and Senate had responded to the airstrike.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said Congress "alone has the authority to declare war,"  must reclaim our responsibility" and "say no to war with Iran."

"We cannot stay silent as this lawless president recklessly moves us closer to yet another unnecessary war that puts innocent lives at risk at home & across the globe," Tlaib posted.

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, similarly expressed "serious concerns about this president’s execution of a potential act of war without authorization of Congress." 

Rep. Justin Amash, I-Cascade Township, who left the Republican Party in 2019, highlighted the power of Congress to declare war while labeling Soleimani as "evil."

"But our system demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress," Amash said.

Upton and fellow Republicans Reps. Paul Mitchell of Dryden, Jack Bergman of Watersmeet and Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, supported the killing of Soleimani, who Trump said was "directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people."

Iran had been "poking the bear" for some time, said Upton, Michigan's senior Republican in Congress. Soleimani was "the ring leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military officials and was likely planning more," he added.

"I look forward to learning more in briefings when I return to Washington from Michigan next week, but I support the president’s reaction thus far in taking Soleimani out," Upton said.

Iran "has killed American troops and conducted terror operations throughout the Middle East and beyond," Huizenga said in a post.

"The actions taken by the administration demonstrate that the United States will hold Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, accountable," he said.

Bergman credited Trump for taking "decisive action."

"While I have no desire for our nation to be immersed in endless wars, it is our duty to ensure those who are working to cripple our country are met with unparalleled force," the second-term congressman said.

While Mitchell didn't praise Trump, he noted Iran has become "increasingly belligerent toward the United States and its allies." Soleimani "was responsible for the deaths of thousands of American service members in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. The United States must continue to defend itself and its allies and must be prepared to address any response Iran chooses to pursue," he said.

But Stabenow said the Trump administration needs to show congressional leaders that is has a "meaningful strategy to protect American lives and interests around the world. Otherwise, she added, "a single action without a meaningful plan will lead to more risk for Americans at home and abroad.”

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, likewise questioned whether Trump had thought through the consequences of his MIddle East strategy. "This administration carried out high-level military action without an authorization of military force from Congress," she said.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who is up for re-election in 2020, did not criticize Trump as he tweeted that the airstrike "took a notorious terrorist off the battlefield."

"What comes next is critical for the region and the world," Peters added. "I am focused on ensuring that there is a strategy to protect our citizens, service members, and diplomats, and that advances our national security."

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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