Debate among Republican lawmakers over how the U.S. should respond to recent Iranian provocations grew Tuesday, with Rep. Mike Turner asserting that the Trump administration would be unwise to pursue military strikes against the Islamic republic.
The Ohio Republican and longtime member of the House Armed Services Committee said that it is too early to conduct a retaliatory military strikes in response to Iran’s threat to ramp up uranium enrichment, as well as to attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region that the Trump administration has blamed on Tehran.
“The actions of Iran need to be deterred and they need to be deterred short of military action, and that’s what we’re seeing from the administration,” Mr. Turner said during an appearance Tuesday morning on CNN.
His comments come days after Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican and a member of the Senate intelligence and Armed Services committees, said retaliatory strikes against Iran would be warranted in response to attacks on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz last week that administration officials claim involved the use of limpet mines by Iranian troops.
“Unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mr. Cotton said on CBS Sunday, asserting that the Trump administration has authority to use military action against Iran without expressed congressional approval.
Mr. Turner explicitly broke with the Mr. Cotton’s comments Tuesday, saying such a move would be “incredibly premature.”
Democratic lawmakers have largely spearheaded an effort to warn the White House that it cannot cite the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to strike in the Middle East and have reiterated that only Congress can declare war.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and long an outspoken GOP voice on foreign policy, said last week that the best course of action for the administration would be to increase economic sanctions against Iran. Mr. Graham suggested in a statement that the White House reach out to Capitol Hill and seek bipartisan support for authority to impose such sanctions.