On Monday, the Speaker of the House announced that her chamber of Congress will vote on a resolution aimed at stopping the President’s hostilities with Iran.
Congress has decided to respond to President Trump’s unauthorized assassination of Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, by pursuing a vote under the Vietnam-era War Powers Act and require the 3,000 American troops sent to Iraq this week to come home within 30 days.
According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the resolution is sponsored by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) who has emerged as a leader of a group of seven “national security Democrats” that have all served in the military or intelligence agencies and recently emerged as Congressional leaders.
The Speaker’s office wrote:
This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.
Pelosi says the resolution will be substantially similar to the one filed in the Senate by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine. (embedded below)
Since Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973, only one War Powers Act resolution has successfully passed both the House and Senate.
Last April, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) convinced the Republican-controlled Senate to vote in favor of keeping American troops out of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)—who also filed a resolution co-sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) this week—shepherded the measure through the House.
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Unfortunately, President Trump vetoed that resolution and the Senate failed to override him, highlighting the difficulty of not only passing one of these resolutions but gaining enough votes to fully enact it.
All of this could have been averted because as far back as this summer when the House tried to stop President Trump from waging a war against Iran in the last major defense spending bill. A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) passed an amendment to that bill in July 2019, which would have prohibited spending any funds—and therefore any action—against Iran. Even the infamous Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) co-sponsored the legislation to stop Trump from igniting a war with Iran.
Yet the measure was stripped out of the final bill in a compromise with the GOP-controlled senate before its passage in late December, averting another Trump shutdown of the federal government.
Any member who voted for the NDAA — a blank check — can't now express dismay that Trump may have launched another war in the Middle East.
My Amendment, which was stripped, would have cut off $$ for any offensive attack against Iran including against officials like Soleimani /1
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) January 3, 2020
Firstly, Trump’s strike on Iran has given a second lease on life to Speaker Pelosi’s use of strategic ambiguity by withholding the articles of impeachment because all business in the Senate grinds to a halt during the trial. Since they won’t be able to debate the War Powers Act resolution during a trial, the Speaker of the House practically has no choice but to hold the charges until the upper chamber decides if they want to plunge our nation into war without reason.
Secondly, it will put the Republican congressional caucus into a political logjam because they’ll have to choose between Trump sending their constituents off to die in an unpopular war with no exit strategy nor real excuse for beginning it in the first place besides an impeached President needing a distraction from the trial they all voted against. In fact, the GOP has been uncharacteristically split over how to handle Iran, and are not united in favor of a major strike.
As of last summer, a Gallup poll found that a whopping 78% of Americans preferred reasonable alternatives to deploying our military in a conflict with Iran. As recently as September, public opinion was 3:1 against taking action against Iran, even after the nation attacked a Saudi oil field that threatened to send gas prices skyrocketing (but didn’t).
House Democrats are unified against Trump’s war, evidenced by members of both the moderate and progressive wings of the party submitting these War Powers Act resolutions.
“Perhaps this time, a stand-alone bill such as the one that passed the Democratic House and was stripped from the defense conference report by the Republican President and Senate can pass,” says Democratic National Committee member Christine Pelosi.
That’s because a Republican vote in favor of a new war in Iran isn’t a given.
On these difficult votes on a matter of life or death, the War Powers Act votes have the potential to very publicly rob President Trump of the only thing—undying loyalty—that has kept him in the Oval Office while he uses our federal government’s foreign policy for his own personal gain.
“The last time Republicans rushed into a War of Choice in the Middle East, they lied about the intelligence,” Pelosi said, “spent trillions of US dollars, destabilized the region, and sacrificed the blood of Americans and Iraqis for 17 years – attacking peacemakers along the way.”
Here’s a copy of the War Powers Act resolution:
War Powers Act resolution submitted by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) https://t.co/o4WKh68srs
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) January 6, 2020
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Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition