Jan 9, 2020

House passes war powers resolution condemning military action against Iran

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 The Resolution should be repealed."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

Tim Kaine says Senate has votes to pass Iran war powers resolution

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he's secured the 51 Senate votes needed to pass a revised version of his war powers resolution, which would require President Trump to seek approval from Congress before taking further military action against Iran, per the AP.

Why it matters: The bipartisan resolution, which has the backing of Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), illustrates the degree to which the Trump administration's actions against Iran have tested the president's Republican allies.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020

GOP Sen. Mike Lee signs onto Sanders' push to block military funds for Iran

Sen. Mike Lee in March 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) agreed to co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders' "No War Against Iran Act," CNN reports and Sanders confirmed Saturday on Twitter.

What's happening: The legislation seeks to deny funding from the Pentagon for use of military force in Iran, which it calls "unauthorized" in light of Congress not approving the lethal strike on top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Go deeperArrowJan 11, 2020

GOP Sen. Mike Lee says Iran briefing did not mention plots against 4 embassies

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the Trump administration did not brief him and other members of Congress that Iran was allegedly plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies, as President Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

Why it matters: The administration has come under fire for declining to provide specifics about the nature of the "imminent" threat that prompted the president to order the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Go deeperArrowJan 12, 2020