House Votes to Restrain Trump’s Iran War Powers


“It’s not about how bad they are,” she said of the Iranians, “it’s about how good we are, protecting the people in a way that prevents war and does not have us producing, again and again, generations of veterans who are suffering because of it.”

The acrimony on the House floor on Thursday highlighted the deep mistrust between the executive and legislative branches that has only deepened after the spate of military escalations this week.

In recent days, Democratic lawmakers, joined by two Republican senators, have accused the president and his top military officials of dismissing Congress’s role as a coequal branch of government. Lawmakers were furious at the White House’s failure to confer with Congress before the strike, as well as a classified document the administration sent to lawmakers notifying them of the move. Their ire was only raised on Wednesday by a pair of briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team.

In one of the briefings, Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah said, administration officials, openly contemptuous of lawmakers, were unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. The message the officials sent, Mr. Lee said, was, “Do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran. If you do, you will be emboldening Iran.”

The resolution passed on Thursday would not constrain Mr. Trump’s constitutional ability to mobilize forces to act in the face of an imminent threat. That language has become particularly fraught in recent weeks, as administration officials have insisted that the president approved the strike that killed General Suleimani to guard against a looming attack. They have also argued that the action was covered under an authorization of military force passed by Congress in 2002 to approve invading Iraq.

Republican argued that Mr. Trump acted well within his authority.

“If we’re going to be serious about keeping this country safe, absolutely there’s a role for Congress to play,” said Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican. “But you’ve got to support the efforts of your commander in chief to carry out his constitutional duty, which he has to keep this country safe.”

But with the administration refusing to detail what exactly that threat was, Democratic lawmakers, as well as Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, and Mr. Lee, have grown increasingly skeptical of the justification behind the strike.



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