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Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo: Cheriss May / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Kaine, member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees sent a letter Thursday evening to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requesting he “immediately” give Congress a memo outlining the legal justification behind the airstrikes in Syria last April.

The backdrop: The Virginia Senator's request came after U.S. forces launched strikes on pro-Syrian government forces in Eastern Syria earlier this week in what the Pentagon claims was in “self-defense” to an “unprovoked” assault.

The big picture: Kaine wrote that that he believes that the strikes do not "justify U.S. military action without the authorization of Congress." He explained that he is “concerned that this legal justification may now become precedent for additional executive unilateral military action, including this week’s U.S. airstrikes in Syria against pro-Assad forces or even an extremely risky ‘bloody nose’ strike against North Korea.”

Flashback: After the April 2017 strikes, Trump said, "I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."

Syria context this week: “I am gravely concerned that the Trump Administration is purposefully stumbling into a broader conflict,” Kaine said yesterday in a statement about the most recent onslaught of strikes. Syria claims the U.S. airstrikes “support terrorism.”

Go deeper: How the attacks in April played around the world

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

4 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.