WASHINGTON, DC – Now that tension between the United States and Iran has reached a new high, the talk on Capitol Hill is less about military action and more about Iranian aggression. This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still warned: "The risks of a conflict are very real."
"But make no mistake: they are being driven by Tehran's decisions to resort to violence," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor this week. "And that includes what the secretary of state has described as a 'blatant assault' on international shipping, threatening the freedom of navigation in international waters."
McConnell says he strongly supports the Trump administration's decision to send 1,000 troops as a defense against any further Iranian acts in the region.
"I support these prudent efforts to respond to Iranian intimidation. Defensive military deployments will help us protect American interests in the region and deter Iranian aggression," he continued. "I encourage the administration to continue working closely with our partners across the globe to encourage Iran's leaders to cease their aggression."
While Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff (CA) agrees there's "no question" Iran was behind the recent oil tanker attack, he argued on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday that these kinds of attacks were "eminently foreseeable" after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
"And the fact that our reneging on the deal hasn't made us safer is part of the proof," claimed Schiff.
Iran threatens that unless sanctions are eased, it will exceed the limit of nuclear fuel allowed in the 2015 Obama era deal in a matter of days.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "It's been our mission since the beginning of this administration to convince the Iranian regime not to move forward with their nuclear program and not to engage in development of their missiles and all the other activities, the malign activities that they've been engaged in around the world."
Pompeo says for more than a year the administration has kept up the pressure with a goal of re-establishing deterrence.
"We need to ensure that we continue to do that so that we ultimately get the opportunity to convince Iran that it's not in their best interest to behave in this way," explained Pompeo.
He pointed out that 40 years of Iranian activity has led us to this point – not three to four.
Some Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) believe it is time to act.
"Unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Cotton on Face the Nation.
Cotton argues it's time for the president to act, with or without congressional approval.
While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledges there is a problem in Iran, but he wants the president to lay out a clear strategy going forward.
"The policy in Iran has been erratic and opaque - nobody knows what their plans are and why they're doing what," Schumer told reporters. "What we've learned since the '60s is unless the American people are on board with the strategy, it's not going to get their support and Congress's support."
Senate Democrats are cautioning the administration against taking action without the support of Congress or US allies. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans were briefed by a top diplomat from the State Department this week on the heightening situation – an offer Leader McConnell says Senate Democrats turned down.