Sen. Merkley watching Middle East closely

ASHLAND, Ore. — One day after a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport killed Iran’s top military commander, members of Congress are speaking out.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told NBC5 News Friday he’s watching what’s happening in the Middle East and Washington D.C. closely.

In a private interview with NBC5 News, the senator said the general has been very harmful to U.S. interest and coordinated attacks on America. At the same time, he said assassinating someone who has such significant influence both in Iraq and Iran is going to cause an array of responses.

The senator said there could be unanticipated and uncertain consequences that could escalate the start of another war in the Middle East—and he doesn’t want that.

“We have to be incredibly vigilant to prevent this and we need to make sure that the president respects the constitution,” Senator Merkley said, “because under the constitution, only Congress can take us to war, not the president.”

The senator said he’s concerned at the possibility of the Iraqi government being undermined or the U.S. acting on Iraqi soil without permission. Senator Merkley said all hands should be on deck looking for planned attacks against Americans and American assets, noting that there are many targets throughout the Middle East.

The U.S. Senator finished up his circuit of town hall meetings in southern Oregon Friday, he visited Grants Pass, Ashland and Klamath Falls. Constituents packed Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University to address the senator. Several topics were brought up including 5G networks, immigration and family separation at the border, carbon emissions and the national debt.

“Senator Merkley was prepared, he’s knowledgeable, wish we had a couple more hours though,” said town hall attendee Bill Walsh. “The questions that came from the audience were very sincere and direct, and good. All of those questions need discussion.”

The senator continues his town hall visits to central Oregon on Saturday.

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