Illinois lawmakers, candidates react to killing of Qassem Soleimani on party lines

Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush called the president an “imbecile,” while Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger approved of the strike, saying, “Mess with the bull, get the horns.”

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The assassinated commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, (Photo by STR / AFP)

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Reaction from Illinois lawmakers and congressional hopefuls to the killing of Qassem Soleimani broke along party lines, with Republicans approving of President Donald Trump’s move and Democrats objecting.

Below are statements, arranged by Illinois congressional district; some are condensed:

Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat

“The killing of Iranian General Soleimani invites even further escalation by a President who has a poor record of judgment in dealing with world powers.

“While President Obama successfully negotiated a nuclear arms agreement with Iran that included Russia and China, President Trump walked away from the agreement and promised confrontation with Iran. Now Iraq — a country where America has invested thousands of American lives and trillions of taxpayer dollars — has sided with Iran.

“Before my Senate colleagues reflexively back the Administration, remember the Constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize war; ask the critical questions of what led us to this point and where we are headed, and be a reliable source of support for the men and women who bear the burden of battle.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Democrat

“I first ran for office to ensure that when the drums of war beat loudly in Washington, I would be able to remind my colleagues in Congress and the White House what the true costs of war actually are — not just in dollars, but in American troops’ lives as well.

“There is no question that Iranian Major General Soleimani posed a threat to the free world, but there is also no question that the President — any President — does not have Constitutional authority to draw the United States into a war without prior Congressional approval. This solemn duty is solely for Congress to decide, but the Trump Administration appears to have failed to inform the people’s representatives of his actions and, in doing so, may very well lead us to war.

“That’s unacceptable. Donald Trump owes it to our troops and to our Constitution to follow the law, provide the American people the transparency they deserve and ensure Congress is able to perform its Constitutional duties.”

Rep. Bobby Rush, (D-1st)

“Last night’s military strike is yet another obvious overreaction from a hyper-reactive imbecile who has been playacting as President. This is nothing more or nothing less than a response to his outrage over his impeachment — we fully expected him to react with retribution, vindictiveness, and high risk, even war.

“A bully lives and thrives through the use of reckless intimidation, no matter the outcome to the innocent. To make a bad situation worse, this President has also failed to seek the proper Congressional approval, instead acting unitarily and thus increasing the risk to our military men and women, to our diplomatic corps, to our allies, and indeed to our nation itself.

“I pray for peace to prevail, and I pray for this imbecile because he is our President.”

Rep. Robin Kelly, (D-2nd)

“Everyone agrees that General Soleimani was an enemy of the United States, likewise, Iran continues to represent a challenge to U.S. policies in the region. To meet these threats, we need a whole-of-government approach with Congress, the White House and military working together to hold bad actors accountable and advance U.S. foreign policy. I’m concerned that the President has jumped the gun with no real strategy and no real follow-up plan to de-escalate the situation and advance the overall U.S. policy agenda. We simply can’t shoot first and ask questions later when we’re working to address threats to U.S. national security. We need to be smart; we need to be strategic; and we need to work together.”

Rush Darwish, 3rd District Democratic candidate

“President Trump has yet again put American lives — our lives — at risk. While Qassem Soleimani was a cold-blooded murderer, his execution means that we are more likely to go to war, one that our young men and women in uniform will have to fight and die in, all for Trump to get his bragging rights.

“If we go to war with Iran, more Americans will suffer as the federal government diverts money that struggling Americans need for essential services. This in no way makes America safer. This is Trump putting our lives at risk so he can feed his own insatiable ego.

“This isn’t a dictatorship. Trump should have sought Congressional approval for this act of war and again flouted Constitutional norms with impunity. We must stop Trump at the ballot box in November. We have no choice.”

Rep. Dan Lipinski, (D-3rd)

“Qasem Soleimani was not only an Iranian military leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American service members in Iraq, but he was also orchestrating terrorism in the Middle East and around the world. The pertinent question now is whether the President and his team have correctly assessed the consequences of this action. I do not want another war in the Middle East. I am hopeful that no one in Washington does.”

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, (D-4th)

“The killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by our military forces confirms our worst fears: President Trump may be provoking an international crisis and putting us on the brink of war to distract the country from his impeachment. This is wrong.

“Trump ordered this military action without authorization or consultation with Congress. Furthermore, when the House passed the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year, we overwhelmingly voted to explicitly prohibit preemptive military actions like this.

“In May 2018, Trump walked away from the international agreement negotiated by President Obama (the JCPOA) that limited Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. In doing so, Trump failed our allies in the negotiations and shut down dialogue that could have eased tensions between the United States and Iran. Americans don’t want another unending war. Just this morning I have received dozens of calls from my constituents opposing the President’s actions.

“We cannot put the lives of American servicemembers, diplomats, and others further at risk by engaging in provocative actions.”

Rep. Mike Quigley, (D-5th)

“I have grave concerns about the repercussions of the Trump Administration’s actions last night in Iraq. The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is a significant escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran, which may trigger increased violence in an already volatile region.

“Not only did President Trump fail to consult Congress before taking this action, he also clearly did not consider the impact it would have on our allies. When we fail to work with our strategic partners to come to significant foreign policy decisions, we risk our legitimacy on the international stage and place our goals at risk.

“This administration owes it to the American people to offer a clear explanation for why this action was taken, under what legal authority they believe it was authorized, and how they plan to de-escalate the situation with Iran. Like most Americans, I do not support an open war with Iran, but I am deeply concerned that the President’s actions have brought us that much closer to conflict.”

Rep. Sean Casten, (D-6th)

“Protecting Americans at home and abroad is of the utmost importance. Soleimani was an enemy to America, but reckless action without a meaningful plan to navigate this dangerous and complicated threat will only lead to increased targeting of Americans abroad, including our troops. Strong national security requires an Administration ready to act with a comprehensive plan, but President Trump’s decision to launch a strike against Soleimani was conducted without Congressional approval and without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). On top of this, President Trump has spent his entire Presidency thinning our diplomats at the State Department, undermining military leaders, and denigrating intelligence agencies.

“This alarming escalation has already brought a promise of retaliatory action from Iran. It is imperative that administration officials immediately brief Congress on the situation, and their plan to protect American citizens and interests abroad.”

Jeanne Ives, 6th District Republican candidate

“It is well-known that my husband and I, like many families in the Sixth District, have sons in the military. This makes reports of our enemies attacking or actively planning attacks on US Troops all the more chilling. The men and women serving our country put their lives on the line for our freedom and safety. Their safety should be a priority for our leaders.

“Intelligence reports indicated Iran’s top military leader was planning future attacks on US forces in Iraq. Our military leaders recognized the threat and disrupted their plans. Our enemies must understand that we will defend our national interests, and ensure our military has the ability to protect themselves against credible threats.

“Decisive leadership is imperative to ensuring our military are able to do what they do best: defend our national interests and defeat those who terrorize us, our partners and innocent civilians.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-9th)

“Far from making Americans safer, this reckless action by President Trump has put our country on the brink of war with Iran.

“It follows in a long line of decisions that began with his unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran that was one of the most successful diplomatic achievements of recent history. That agreement was successfully preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, supported by the entire international community, and had made Americans safer by avoiding a cataclysmic war.

“Iran is three times larger than Iraq – with massive military capability. Most Americans believe that the War in Iraq was a horrific mistake. Seventeen years later, we still have troops in Iraq. A war with Iran could be even worse – costing far more in taxpayer dollars and American lives.

“Qasem Soleimani was certainly an enemy of the United States. But his assassination is a major escalation in President Trump’s conflict with Iran, that makes us less safe. It will inevitably lead to Iranian retaliation – potentially using its proxies throughout the Middle East. That retaliation will likely extend to American allies in the region – and could explode into a broader war throughout the Middle East and beyond.

“Americans must demand that President Trump deescalate tensions with Iran – coordinate with Congress, and our allies around the world -- and work toward peace.”

Rep. Brad Schneider, (D-10th)

“Unlike other terrorist leaders including bin Laden and al-Baghdadi, Soleimani led a state-sponsored force, and the President’s decision to escalate U.S. actions and attack a state actor may likely result in retaliatory steps from Iran or its proxy forces. It is incumbent on President Trump to protect American personnel abroad, coordinate defenses with our allies in the region including Israel, and prevent dangerous escalation in an already volatile part of the world.

“President Trump must directly communicate with Congress, with the American people, and with our international partners to lay out a comprehensive, long-term American strategy that contains the Iranian regime, stops the situation from spiraling out of control, and protects American interests and our allies. This strategy must also include a plan to work with our allies to prevent Iran from accelerating its nuclear program toward ‘break out status’ and to ensure Tehran never acquires a nuclear weapon. “Ultimately, any sustained action against Iran requires Congressional approval. The Administration does not have Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) or a declaration of war against Iran. The American people do not want an unnecessary war and are rightly anxious about where we go from here.”

Rachel Ventura, 11th District Democratic candidate

“Bill Foster and the rest of the United States Congress have a responsibility to work within the system of checks and balances that our forefathers created. Congress controls the purse strings of power, and when they voted in Dec. 2019 for the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to give Donald Trump a blank check to go to war with Iran and continue a war in Yemen, they stopped exercising their constitutional power to hold a reckless president in check.”

Rep. Mike Bost, (R-12th)

“For 20 years, Qassem Soleimani has led the Quds Force, orchestrating countless terrorist acts and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service members. Last night’s strike was decisive and necessary.”

Sue Rezin, 14th District Republican candidate

“President Donald Trump’s order to surgically kill both legendary Iranian General Qassem Soleimani along with General al-Muhandis who was the leader of the Iraqi militia that killed an American recently in escalating attacks against American bases in Iraq, could not have been more precise … more decisive … more impactful or more strategically brilliant.

“This is peace through strength. Iranians only respect power and the will to use it. No U.S. response to the storming of our embassy in Baghdad would have emboldened Iran to escalate their series of recent attacks.

“... Now it’s time for Congresswoman Lauren Underwood to speak up. Does she support leaders in her party who want to take the disastrous Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama appeasement approach yet again? Or support strategically finding the most painful way to demonstrate U.S. resolve to the Iranian regime and other enemies around the world, by acting as decisively as President Trump just did? At least in foreign policy against a militant enemy that for 40 years has called America the ‘Great Satan,’ can she be bipartisan for once?”

Rep. Lauren Underwood, (D-14th)

“My responsibility as a Member of Congress is to ensure the safety and security of Americans at home and abroad. The Administration’s military actions this week represent an unprecedented escalation of tensions with Iran that increases the dangers of war in the Middle East, posing grave risks to Americans and to our allies in the region. The Administration must provide additional information to Congress to explain the intelligence that justifies these actions and its plan to keep America safe in their wake. We have hundreds of our neighbors serving America’s interests in the Middle East right now; above all, I am praying for their safety.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R-16th)

On CNN, Kinzinger called the US airstrike to kill the top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani “the right move.”

“Will there be escalation? Yes. But the escalation is not on our part. We’re finally responding to continued provocations by Iran.”

Rep. Darin LaHood, (R-18th)

“Qasem Soleimani was the mastermind behind Iran’s terrorist regime, responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans and thousands more in the Middle East.

“President Trump was right to act decisively to deliver the justice Soleimani deserved and protect Americans at home and abroad. I applaud the President and his team for their swift action, and I am grateful for our brave military and intelligence officials who executed the mission. I look forward to learning more from our military officials, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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