Democrats in Congress are pushing bills to limit the President’s ability to quickly respond to threats using the military, saying it should not be used in countering Iranian attacks.
The latest Senate resolution is one of several introduced in recent days. All except one have been pushed solely by Democrats in attempts to halt any possible military action against Iran.
Last week Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a war powers resolution last week meant to curb Trump’s authority, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that a similar resolution would be introduced in the House and voted on the next day.
In the latest resolution, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was joined by lone Republican and isolationist Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in introducing a resolution (pdf) that would amend the 2001 and 2002 authorizations made after 9/11.
Military experts warn the move will significantly weaken the ability of America to quickly respond to threats and attacks and put overseas troops and American citizens at risk.
One unexpected result may also be that the move could weaken NATO and play into the hands of Russia. American Presidents have sole authority to engage in NATO response to threats against the alliance. Democrats have not responded to questions about how NATO may be affected after having previously falsely accused Trump of hamstringing NATO. In reality, Trump has increased both American participation and forced member nations to give over $10 billion more to its operation.
But those previous doubts have not dampened the move by Democrats to weaken President Trump or isolationists like Paul who believe the US should not respond to attacks that could lead to greater conflicts.
“The American people do not want another endless war in the Middle East — yet what we’ve seen in recent days is a president willing to make significant military decisions bringing us closer to war without consulting Congress or recognizing that our Constitution gives war making power to Congress, not the president,” Merkley said in a statement.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey, (D-Mass.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) co-sponsored the resolution, along with Democratic presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The resolution was introduced shortly after Congress received classified briefings from top officials in the Trump administration.
The resolution states: “Neither the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) nor the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) may be interpreted as a statutory authorization for the use of military force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Administration officials have said the authorization for the use of military force passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks provides legal authorization for an airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was hit near Baghdad International Airport last week.
“The president exercised America’s clear and inherent right of self-defense to counter this threat. It was a fully authorized action under the 2002 AUMF and was consistent with his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief to defend our nation and our forces against attacks like those that Soleimani has directed in the past and was plotting now,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said after the strike.
The war powers resolution was meant “to keep the American people safe” and would “limit the president’s military actions regarding Iran,” she said.
Through the Obama administration, Democrats were silent on military actions – including US response that killed American citizens – and continued to support unprecedented U.S. bombing of targets.