1/9/2020 12:38:00 PM House to vote on non-binding limit to war powers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is set to vote on a non-binding measure aimed at President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran as Democratic criticism of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general intensifies.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the war powers resolution, which does not require Trump’s signature, nonetheless “has real teeth” because it is “a statement of the Congress of the United States. I will not have that statement be diminished by whether the president will veto it or not.”
Pelosi announced the vote Wednesday, declaring that last week’s drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani was “provocative and disproportionate.“
The Democratic measure seems certain to pass over solid Republican opposition. A similar proposal by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., faces an uphill fight in the GOP-run Senate.
Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, denounced the Democratic measure as little more than “a press release designed to attack President Trump,” noting that it has no binding effect and cannot be signed into law.
“This resolution only wastes our valuable time, plays politics with our national security and damages our ability to protect American lives and interests in the Middle East,” Scalise said. The vote comes a day after the Trump administration briefed lawmakers on its actions in Iran. Democrats and at least two Republicans called the briefings inadequate, adding that officials did not provide enough details about why the attack was justified.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that Soleimani “was traveling the region making plans to bring an attack against American personnel and American forces.” He said it was not possible to share full details of the intelligence with lawmakers.
“When it comes to intelligence we have to protect sources and methods, there’s only certain amount we can share with every member of Congress,” Pence said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But those of us who have seen all the evidence know that there was a compelling case of imminent threat against American personnel.”
On Twitter Thursday, Trump urged House Republicans to vote against the resolution. And John Bolton, his former national security adviser, insisted the 1973 War Powers Act, which forms the basis of the Democratic resolution, is unconstitutional. “It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the president and Congress“ and should be repealed, Bolton tweeted Thursday.
The House vote was scheduled shortly Iran retaliated for the Soleimani killing by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. No casualties were reported.
“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,“ Pelosi said in her statement Wednesday.
“Congress hereby 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“ unless Congress declares war on that country or enacts legislation authorizing use of force to prevent an attack on the U.S. and its forces, the five-page resolution says.
“I think it’s extremely important that we as a country, if we are going to — either intentionally or accidentally — slide into war, that we have a debate about it,” said freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., the measure’s sponsor. Slotkin is a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official who served in Iraq.