GOP lawmaker on Iran: Congress should vote on 'what's worthy of spilling American blood and what isn't'

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzLara Trump campaigns with far-right activist candidate Laura Loomer in Florida House to vote on removing cannabis from list of controlled substances The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from GOP convention night 1 MORE (R-Fla.) told Hill.TV on Thursday that Congress should play a deciding role when it comes to military action overseas, as tensions between Washington and Tehran increase following the downing of a U.S. military drone.

“If my constituents have to have the courage and bravery to go and fight these wars and die in these wars then politicians in Washington need to the courage to actually vote on them and decide what’s worthy of spilling American blood and what isn’t," Gaetz said.

The Florida Republican, who said his congressional district has the highest concentration of active-duty military personnel, emphasized the importance of finding a bipartisan solution, with lawmakers like Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaThe Hill Interview: Jerry Brown on climate disasters, COVID-19 and Biden's 'Rooseveltian moment' Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery DeJoy defends Postal Service changes at combative House hearing MORE (D-Calif.), to address deteriorating relations with Iran.

“I’m proud to work with Ro Khanna and other folks on the political left to try to achieve a bipartisan consensus,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz went on to say that some Trump officials have contradicted Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: House Democrats unveil stopgap spending measure to GOP opposition | Bill includes .6B for new subs | Trump issues Iran sanctions after world shrugs at US action at UN Navalny calls on Russia to return clothes he was wearing when he fell ill US issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community MORE on Iran. He did not mention the officials by name, saying the information he received was in a “classified setting.”

“When Secretary Pompeo has presented information there have been other people in the administration that contradict him, that don’t agree with the viewpoint he takes regarding the connection between Al-Qaeda and Iran,” he told Hill.TV.

Gaetz’s comments come after Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April that Iran’s connections to al Qaeda are “very real.”

“They have hosted al Qaeda. They have permitted al Qaeda to transit their country. There’s no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al Qaeda. Period. Full stop,” Pompeo told the Senate panel at the time.

Some critics argue that Pompeo and other Trump officials have been laying the groundwork to apply the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) to attack Tehran by talking up ties between al Qaeda and Iran.

Republican lawmakers remain divided on the issue of whether Trump has the legal authority to strike Iran.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMurky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Florida senators pushing to keep Daylight Savings Time during pandemic MORE (R-Fla.) has said the president wouldn’t need congressional approval to attack Tehran if the strike is in self-defense, but others warned that such a move would be an “inappropriate use” of the 2001 war authorization.

House Democrats, meanwhile, plan to vote for an amendment that would clarify that the administration does not have authority to conduct military action against Iran. The bill faces little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate.

—Tess Bonn