President Donald Trump raised eybrows, and tensions, this week by ordering a military strike against Iran, and then reversing course. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, by contrast, remained consistent in his support for the president's toward Iran.
“I don’t want to advocate exactly what the president should do,” Toomey said on a visit to Pittsburgh Friday. “It’s commendable that the president’s instinctive approach is to try to avoid an escalation that could lead to war.”
Iran shot down an unmanned American drone earlier this week. President Trump originally planned a military response, but reportedly canceled the strike Thursday evening.
The President said Friday morning on Twitter that "we were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different [sites] when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike, I stopped it," he tweeted.
Tensions between the two countries have been rising ever since Trump withdrew from an international deal that offered economic incentives if Iran halted nuclear weapons development. Toomey still supports that decision.
“Having withdrawn, I think the strategy is to impose sanctions so tough that the regime can’t withstand the domestic political pressure,” he said. “The goal is to do a lot of damage to their economy... [I]f this economy suffers further, I think we’re likely to see political unrest, and I think that’s what it will take for the regime to decide they’ve got a better chance on holding power if they abandon their nuclear weapons program.”
The Pennsylvania Republican added that the U.S. needs to send an "unequivocal message" that the Iranian government cannot attack American assets.
“The president has at his disposal experts who can give him a very wide range of responses. I think there has to be a response,” Toomey said.
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-14) called for "targeted and measured strikes" on Iran in a Friday statement, but said he supports Trump’s strategy.
Reschenthaler sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He called for the U.S. to “take retaliatory action,” saying in a statement that “we must not allow Iran’s belligerent and escalating aggression to go unanswered.”
“President Trump’s strong economic sanctions limit Iran’s capabilities to fund proxy terror groups and rogue regimes, such as Syria, Hezbollah, Houthi rebels, and Hamas," the statement said. "Under the Obama administration’s failed Iran Deal, Iran was given the resources and flexibility to sow chaos in the Middle East and throughout the world.”