The United States House of Representatives (lower house of U.S. Congress), on Thursday, approved a non-binding resolution aimed at reining in the President Trump’s ability to attack Iran in the future without congressional approval.
The War Powers Act of 1973 provides that Congress may direct the President to withdraw US forces from hostilities by passing a resolution in both the House and Senate.
This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you’re not a dictator. https://t.co/VTroMegWv0
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) January 5, 2020
The resolution was introduced by Democrats after Trump’s order to kill an Iranian commander and retaliatory missile strikes by Tehran dramatically escalated tensions and raised fears of a devastating war between the two foes.
The mostly symbolic but politically charged vote, 224 to 194, was largely along party lines, with three members of Trump’s Republican Party joining Democrats in approving the measure demanding the president not engage in military action against Iran unless authorized by Congress.
The House measure was introduced as a concurrent resolution, a form of legislation that does not carry the weight of law
Among them was Matt Gaetz, one of Trump’s staunchest supporters in Congress who noted in a floor speech that the measure did not criticize Trump, but said that “engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision.”
“If the members of our armed services have the courage to go and fight and die in these wars, as Congress we ought to have the courage to vote for them or against them,” Gaetz said.
As lawmakers launched a scalding day-long debate over presidential authority, Trump insisted he needs no one’s blessing to launch attacks, essentially scorning existing legal requirements for consulting with Congress.
Thursday’s measure, which directed the President to “terminate the use of United States Armed Forces” against Iran unless granted congressional authorization, passed the Democratic-run chamber 224-194, but faces an uphill climb in the Republican-held Senate.
BREAKING: House passes Iran War Powers resolution limiting Trump’s power to go to war with Iran without congressional authorization, one week after a U.S. strike killed Qassem Soleimani.
Vote was 224-194.
GOP ayes: 3
Dem nos: 8https://t.co/EW56WhhFPq
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) January 9, 2020
“I don’t have to,” Trump said when asked whether he would seek congressional approval for more military action against Iran.
“And you shouldn’t have to,” he added, “because you have to make split-second decisions sometimes.”
Trump signaled Wednesday he was stepping back from the brink of war with Iran after a US drone strike that killed commander Qasem Soleimani was followed by Iranian missile volleys against bases housing American forces in Iraq.
After 3 years of waging war on health care in the US #trump is the last person who should be taking credit for the ACS new findings he sinks to new lows daily
American Cancer Society Tears Trump To Shreds After He Takes Credit For Decline In Cancer Deaths https://t.co/Ji5MbSHc4V
— JoeFaz™® VetsResistSquadron (@joefaz) January 10, 2020
But on Thursday he fought back against criticism that he’d ordered the killing, risking all-out conflict, without real justification.
At a reelection campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, Trump insisted, without providing any evidence, that Soleimani was “actively planning new attacks,” including against US embassies, “and we stopped him cold.”
He ridiculed his Democratic opponents in Congress, calling them insulting names and claimed that if he had consulted with them they would have leaked the secret operation to the “fake news.”
“You should get permission from Congress,” he said mockingly to mimic the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
#Trump has absolutely no sense of what he is trying to do in the world. He is not a realist or a principled noninterventionist. He’s not a hawk or a dove. He’s not a Wilsonian or a Jacksonian. He’s just a jumble of bad and selfish instincts.
My column https://t.co/7SBy8mOC2p
— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) January 9, 2020
Cannot afford war
But Democrats, and some Republicans, have expressed deep skepticism about the administration’s rationale for Soleimani’s killing, and are demanding Congress reassert its power over a commander in chief’s use of American military might against another nation.
Citing the War Powers Resolution of 1973 which forbids a president from taking the country to war without congressional approval, the measure “directs the president to terminate the use of United States armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military.”
US lawmakers concerned about rushing to war with Iran adopted a measure aimed at reining in President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against the Islamic republic
But the text also provides for key exceptions, allowing use of force to defend against or prevent an “imminent” attack against Americans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters about the resolution, said Trump “must de-escalate and must prevent further violence. America and the world cannot afford war.”
The House measure was introduced as a concurrent resolution, a form of legislation that does not carry the weight of law. But as a political instrument, it could serve as a rebuke to Trump’s foreign policy.
Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy blasted Pelosi’s effort as a “show vote” because it cannot become law and will therefore “never limit (Trump’s) constitutional authority to defend the American people.”
— Press TV (@PressTV) January 9, 2020
Pelosi said her Democrats were moving forward because their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials.
Democrats have introduced a similar war powers resolution in the Senate, where it faces a steep climb as Republicans hold a 53-47 majority. Two Senate Republicans, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, announced support for the Senate version, suggesting the vote, as early as next week, could be razor-thin.
Read more: “Iran is standing down”: Trump
The pair emerged from the top-secret briefing saying administration officials provided no acceptable rationale for killing Soleimani or specific evidence of imminent threats against Americans, and took the “insulting” step of discouraging questions about military policy.
“To come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran? It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong,” Lee told reporters.
During House debate, Democrat Ayanna Pressley rejected what many Republicans described as Trump’s inherent military authority, and demanded forthrightness from the administration about reasons for sending US troops into battle.
“We cannot allow our country to be lied into another war,” she said.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.