139 lawmakers support Trump’s refugee ban and also support bombing Syria

Most of them said they supported the bombing for humanitarian reasons.

CREDIT: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Image via AP
CREDIT: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Image via AP

Last week, President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase after Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad killed civilians with chemical weapons.

The Turkish health ministry, after examining victims of the Assad regime’s attack, confirmed that it was carried out with the banned nerve agent Sarin. Syrian Opposition health officials and humanitarian groups on the ground estimated the death toll at 70–100 people. Many of the dead were children.

Trump cited their deaths repeatedly while explaining his decision to attack the Assad regime.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many,” he said, according to press pool reports. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”


The president ordered the attack from Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Florida, and could not stream his comments due to technical restrictions.

But Trump — much like the lawmakers now publicly praising his decision to retaliate against Assad — has not always displayed this level of concern for the people suffering over the course of Syria’s six-year war.

Trump has tried, twice, to stop Syrians from entering the United States. In the first version of his Muslim ban executive order, he temporarily suspended visas for Syrian citizens and suspended Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely. After that ban was struck down by the courts, he tried once more, again suspending visas and refugee resettlement for Syrians.

Trump apparently doesn’t see a contradiction between condemning Assad’s brutality and turning away those who flee it. And he’s not the only one. Many lawmakers in Congress rushed to condemn Assad’s latest attack and applaud Trump’s action — while also supporting Trump’s proposal to ban all Syrian refugees from the United States.

ThinkProgress reviewed the statements of every member of Congress to gather their previous statements on Trump’s Muslim ban, as well as their recent responses to the Sarin attack and Trump’s retaliatory airstrikes.


139 members of Congress expressed support for at least one version of Trump’s ban as well as for his airstrikes on the Assad regime’s al-Shayrat airbase last week. An additional 28 members of Congress did not make clear statements on Trump’s ban, but supported his airstrikes.

The vast majority of those who applauded the bombings did so as a measured response to a humanitarian tragedy, and did not acknowledge the hypocrisy in simultaneously backing a ban on refugees fleeing a war zone.

Take Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), who tweeted this on Thursday:

But when Trump proposed to ban Syrian refugees — including those babies and children —Ross called it “long overdue.”

Or Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), who said in a statement last Thursday that “time and again, Bashar al-Assad has proven to be monstrously cruel to his own people. This recent sarin gas attack is further evidence that his disregard for international law and human decency has no place in the modern world.”


In January, Knight came out in support of Trump’s ban. And in 2015, when President Obama proposed increasing the United States’ intake of Syrian refugees, Knight called it an “existential” question that went against “the best interest of the American people.”

Rep. Jacki Walorski (R-IN), tweeted that “tonight’s U.S. military airstrikes on targets in Syria send a clear message that America will not stand for such atrocities.” In 2015, she commended then-Governor Mike Pence for suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Indiana.

There’s also Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who tweeted Friday morning, “The United States sent a clear message that we will not tolerate the slaughter of innocent citizens by the Assad regime.” While defending the Muslim ban on CNN in January, he specifically called it the “Syria ban.”

ThinkProgress only looked at members of Congress who supported or did not make clear statements condemning Trump’s ban on refugees. Both versions of his ban call for a 120 day suspension of all refugee resettlement, as well as a 90 day ban on visas for Syrian nationals. We focused on the responses to Trump’s recent ban, because while the courts have temporarily halted the latest ban, it may still become reality.

The number of Congress members who have previously expressed broad support for halting Syrian refugees and also supported Trump’s recent airstrikes is likely far higher. In 2015, 289 Representatives voted to toughen the already rigorous screening for refugees from Iraq and Syria. Under the bill, refugees would only be allowed to enter the country if the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence all agreed that a refugee posed no threat to the United States, which would make entry nearly impossible. The bill’s supporters included 47 Democrats, and vocal backers of Assad, like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). A number of Senators, including Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), also expressed support for the tougher screening progress. Many of these members of Congress also expressed support for Trump’s airstrikes in Syria.

Speaking to press in Mar-A-Lago last Thursday, Sean Spicer attempted to reconcile Trump’s stance on Syrian refugees with his framing of the attack on Assad as humanitarian, saying that Trump supports setting up “safe zones” so that Syrians can safely stay in their country.

Trump has never given details as to how he would actually set up such safe zones, nor has he made them a policy priority for his administration. His administration’s foreign policy approach towards Syria is still largely incoherent, and he is still looking to ban Syrian refugees from the United States.

You can see ThinkProgress’ full data set and links to the lawmakers’ statements here.

The list of the lawmakers who support both a version of the Muslim ban and the airstrikes — the vast majority of whom couched their support in terms of humanitarian outrage — is as follows:


Sen. Richard Shelby

Sen. Luther Strange

Rep. Bradley Byrne

Rep. Roger Aderholt


Sen. Dan Sullivan

Rep. Don Young


Sen. John McCain

Rep. Martha McSally

Rep. Andy Biggs

Rep. Trent Franks


Sen. John Boozman

Sen. Tom Cotton

Rep. French Hill

Rep. Steve Womack

Rep. Bruce Westerman


Rep. Doug LaMalfa

Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Steve Knight

Rep. Ed Royce

Rep. Ken Calvert

Rep. Darrell Issa

Rep. Paul Cook


Sen. Cory Gardner

Rep. Doug Lamborn


Rep. Matt Gaetz

Rep. Dennis Ross

Rep. Vern Buchanan

Rep. Brian Mast

Rep. Francis Rooney

Rep. Neal Dunn

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Rep. Ted Yoho

Rep. John Rutherford


Sen. David Perdue

Sen. Johnny Isakson

Rep. Buddy Carter

Rep. Barry Loudermilk

Rep. Drew Ferguson

Rep. Doug Collins


Rep. Mike Bost

Rep. Rodney Davis

Rep. Darin LaHood


Rep. Jackie Walorski

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Luke Messer

Rep. Larry Bucshon


Sen. Chuck Grassley

Rep. Rod Blum

Rep. Steve King


Rep. Roger Marshall


Rep. Andy Barr


Sen. John N. Kennedy

Rep. Steve Scalise

Rep. Clay Higgins

Rep. Mike Johnson

Rep. Ralph Abraham

Rep. Garret Graves


Sen. Susan Collins

Rep. Bruce Poliquin


Rep. Andy Harris


Rep. Jack Bergman

Rep. Paul Mitchell

Rep. David Trott

Rep. Tim Walberg


Rep. Trent Kelly


Sen. Roy Blunt

Rep. Vicky Hartzler

Rep. Sam Graves


Sen. Steve Daines


Sen. Deb Fischer

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

Rep. Don Bacon

New Jersey

Rep. Frank LoBiondo

Rep. Tom MacArthur

Rep. Chris Smith

Rep. Leonard Lance

New York

Rep. Lee Zeldin

Rep. John Faso

Rep. Peter King

Rep. Claudia Tenney

Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. John Katko

Rep. Chris Collins

North Carolina

Sen. Thom Tillis

Rep. Ted Budd

Rep. Mark Walker

Rep. David Rouzer


Rep. Brad Wenstrup

Rep. Bill Johnson


Sen. Jim Inhofe

Rep. Tom Cole


Sen. Pat Toomey

Rep. Lou Barletta

Rep. Lloyd Smucker

Rep. Mike Kelly

Rep. Scott Perry

Rep. Bill Shuster

South Carolina

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Rep. Joe Wilson

Rep. Jeff Duncan

South Dakota

Rep. Mike Rounds


Sen. Bob Corker

Sen. Lamar Alexander

Rep. Phil Roe

Rep. Jimmy Duncan

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

Rep. Diane Black

Rep. David Kustoff


Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Kay Granger

Rep. Jodey Arrington

Rep. Ted Poe

Rep. Lamar S. Smith

Rep. Pete Olson

Rep. Roger Williams

Rep. Michael Burgess

Rep. Blake Farenthold

Rep. Pete Sessions

Rep. Brian Babin

Rep. John Ratcliffe

Rep. Jeb Hensarling

Rep. John Culberson

Rep. Kevin Brady


Sen. Orrin Hatch

Rep. Chris Stewart

Rep. Jason Chaffetz

Rep. Mia Love


Rep. Rob Wittman

Rep. Scott Taylor

Rep. Dave Brat


Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

West Virginia

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

Rep. David McKinley

Rep. Alex Mooney


Sen. Ron Johnson

Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Glenn Grothman


Rep. Liz Cheney