House to Vote Thursday on War Powers Resolution

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will vote Thursday on a resolution limiting President Trump’s military action with Iran without congressional authorization.

“Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. “The Administration took this action without consulting Congress. This action endangered our service members, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.”

Pelosi’s statement came after lawmaker were briefed in a closed door meeting Wednesday by Trump top national security advisers on the justification for killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Administration officials cited the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force as part of the legal justification for the killing of Soleimani. 

“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing today,” the statement reads. “To honor our duty to keep the American people safe, the House will move forward with a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran.”

The 5-page resolution, led by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), would directs the President to terminate the use of U.S. Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran unless Congress authorized it or if there is an “imminent armed attack upon the United States.” It also would handcuff President Trump military authoritypower when it comes to future strikes unless there is a specific blessing by Congress.

In her statement announcing the war powers vote, Pelosi said the House might also consider legislation from Rep. Barbara Lee(D-CA)., that would repeal the 2002 military force authorization, as well as a bill from Rep. Ro Khanna(D-CA) that would block funding provided by Congress for military action against Iran without prior authorization from Congress.

The measure is expected to pass the Democratic controlled House, and the Senate will have 10 days to take it up for a vote. Only a simple majority of 51 is needed to pass, but it is uncertain if it will pass in the GOP controlled Senate. If the Senate does pass the House resolution, President Trump will veto the measure like he did last April when he vetoed a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military role in Yemen. An override vote in the Senate failed 53 to 45, with only seven Republicans joining Democrats in challenging the president.

The resolution, according to Pelosi would be marked up by the Rules Committee Wednesday night and will go to the floor for a vote Thursday.

The Senate measure, sponsored by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia requires that any hostilities with Iran must be explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force. It also directs the president a 30-day deadline after its enactment to remove troops from engaging in hostilities against Iran unless authorized by Congress. The resolution is privileged, meaning Republicans cant block the measure from reaching the floor.

Congress in 1973 enacted the War Powers Resolution that requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days without a congressional authorization for use of military force.  Since its passage, the act has been ignored by both Presidents Clinton and Obama. 

In 1999, Clinton continued the bombing campaign in Kosovo for about three weeks after the 60-day deadline had passed. The Clinton administration cited funding by Congress constituted authorization, despite the War Powers Resolution specifically says that such funding does not constitute authorization. President Obama in 2011 spent 7 months bombing Libya without congressional authorization. He claimed the U.S. strikes using piloted drone planes for its attacks in Libya aren’t subject to the War Powers Resolution because they don’t meet the definition of “hostilities.”

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House to Vote Thursday on War Powers Resolution