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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House voted 224-194 on Thursday in favor of a symbolic war powers resolution directing President Trump to halt the use of military force against Iran unless he obtains approval from Congress.

The big picture: A classified briefing Wednesday on the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani left Democrats and even some Republicans deeply skeptical, with many claiming that officials did not provide evidence that there was an "imminent" threat from Iran.

  • Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said they will vote in favor of a similar resolution in the Senate, but the bill is not expected to pass without additional Republican defections.
  • Three Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash voted in favor of the House bill. Eight Democrats, mostly moderates, voted against it.

The state of play: Following a week in which the U.S. and Iran appeared to be on the brink of war, tensions between the two countries seem to have momentarily subsided.

  • Retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on Tuesday did not result in any U.S. casualties, and Trump claimed in an address to the nation that Iran "appears to be standing down."

Between the lines: Even if it was passed by the Senate, the House resolution is non-binding and would not go to the president's desk for a signature. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference Thursday, "This is a statement of the Congress of the United States. I will not have that statement diminished by having the president veto it or not."

What they're saying: Former national security adviser and notorious Iran hawk John Bolton tweeted: "The 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the President and Congress. The Resolution should be repealed."

  • President Trump quote tweeted Bolton on Thursday and added: "Smart analysis, I fully agree!"
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the president's most loyal allies in Congress, was one of the few Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution, stating on the House floor: "I support the president. Killing Soleimani was the right decision, but engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision."

What to watch: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation that would block funding for offensive military force against Iran without congressional authorization.

  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) is also seeking to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used repeatedly to justify war in the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001, criticizing it as a "blank check."

Go deeper: GOP Sen. Mike Lee calls Soleimani briefing the "worst" he's ever seen

Go deeper

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

The Democrats' debt dilemma

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats find themselves in a political and potentially catastrophic economic quagmire as Republicans stand firm on denying them any help in raising the federal debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The Democrats are technically right — the debt comes, in part, from past spending by President Trump and his predecessors, not only President Biden's new big-ticket programs. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is saddling them with the public relations challenge of making that distinction during next year's crucial midterms.

Pelosi's endgame

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began her infrastructure endgame Tuesday, pressuring centrists to ultimately support as much social spending as possible while pleading with progressives to pass the roads-and-bridges package preceding it.

Why it matters: Neither group can achieve what it wants without the other, their ultimatums be damned. The leaders of both acknowledged the speaker's unique gift for pulling off a deal after separate conversations with Democratic leaders.

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