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In rare move top Republicans back Biden’s airstrikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen: ‘overdue but welcome’

Senior Republicans are among the lawmakers praising the Biden administration's move to strike Houthi targets in Yemen

Senior Republicans are showing support for President Biden’s decision to launch coordinated airstrikes against Houthi rebel targets in Yemen. 

“I welcome the U.S. and coalition operations against the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists responsible for violently disrupting international commerce in the Red Sea and attacking American vessels,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “President Biden’s decision to use military force against these Iranian proxies is overdue.”

“I am hopeful these operations mark an enduring shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies. To restore deterrence and change Iran’s calculus, Iranian leaders themselves must believe that they will pay a meaningful price unless they abandon their worldwide campaign of terror,” he added.


House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul, R-Texas, who said he was meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the strikes were called, also praised the actions. He also called on Biden to restore the Houthis’ terror designation.

“I’m pleased the president, in coordination with our allies, finally took action against the Iran-backed Houthis following weeks of instability in the Red Sea. Tonight, with these strikes, we are beginning to restore deterrence. The administration must acknowledge it was a mistake to rescind the Houthis designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and re-list them immediately,” he said.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, similarly called the action “overdue” and accused the Biden administration of contributing to the increasingly hostile situation in the Red Sea, but said the strikes were “a good first step toward restoring deterrence in the Red Sea.”

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“I appreciate that the administration took the advice of our regional commanders and targeted critical nodes within Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory. It is important that we follow this action in close consultation with our Saudi partners to ensure they are with us as the situation develops,” Wicker said.

“This strike does not change the basic facts: for weeks, the Houthis have launched drones and missiles at our sailors, while the Biden administration has trumpeted a maritime task force…It is time to dispense with the hollow talk of ‘joint resolutions’ and ‘maritime task forces.’ This strike should be a warning to the Houthis and other Iranian proxies that they will suffer catastrophic consequences from escalation in the region.”

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President Biden announced in a statement that the U.S. led a coordinated airstrike in Yemen with the U.K. and support from Canada, Australia and Bahrain.

He said the targets were “used by Houthi rebels to endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an ally of former President Trump’s, said he was “very supportive of the Biden Administration’s decision to strike Houthi rebels who have been harassing international shipping and trying to attack Israeli and American interests.”

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“It’s long past time to let Iran know that we will hold them accountable for the actions of their proxies – in this case, the Houthi rebels. The only language radical Islamic groups understand is force. I hope the Biden Administration understands that their deterrence policy has completely failed,” Graham wrote on X.

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Even rank-and-file Republicans have been issuing cautious and rare praise for the move. Rep. John James, R-Mich., a military combat veteran who served in Iraq, told Fox News Digital, “The Houthis are a terrorist organization. They have been striking at U.S. military personnel since late last year and must be destroyed.”

“I pray for the safety of our brave military personnel engaging,” James said.

Top Democrats in Congress are also backing Biden’s move, while some further to the left are angry with him for bypassing Capitol Hill to do it.

“While I support these targeted, proportional military strikes, I call on the Biden Administration to continue its diplomatic efforts to avoid escalation to a broader regional war and continue to engage Congress on the details of its strategy and legal basis as required by law,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said however, “The President needs to come to Congress before launching a strike against the Houthis in Yemen and involving us in another middle east conflict.”
 

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