Democrats ramp up calls for war powers vote after Iran strike
House Democrats emerging from a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning renewed their calls for a vote this week on a resolution that would curtail President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE’s war powers pertaining to the conflict with Iran.
The gathering was the first all-caucus meeting since Tehran launched a ballistic missile attack Tuesday night against U.S. troops and coalition forces at bases in Iraq in retaliation to the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
No Americans were killed in the attack by Iran, according to initial reports.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney Democrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department MORE (D-N.Y.) said a resolution is still needed, even if it isn’t put on the floor in the coming days.
“If it’s not this week, it’ll be soon,” Engel told reporters as he left Wednesday's meeting in the Capitol’s basement. “I do think the [Tuesday night] strike did create some uncertainty, but Congress needs to do what Congress needs to do.”
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team appear to be rallying behind a resolution authored by freshman Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHouse erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker MORE (D-Mich.), a former CIA analyst and Shia militia expert who served three tours in Iraq. That war powers resolution would mandate military hostilities with Iran end within 30 days unless Congress grants approval.
Democrats acknowledge that the timing of the war powers vote is “in flux,” citing Tuesday’s missile strikes, and questions surrounding what message Trump will send in Wednesday’s address to the nation and what information the administration will provide Congress in briefings scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
But they’re vowing that a vote on the president's war powers will occur at some point. Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi signals no further action against Omar Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Pelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement MORE (D-Mass.), a member of House leadership, said that despite Trump’s tweet Tuesday night, “all is not well."
Just days ago, Democrats “certainly had hoped" to move the resolution this week, Clark said. That timeframe is no longer guaranteed, she said, but Democrats still intend to pass the measure as soon as possible
“Yes, I would like to see a decent resolution on the floor,” Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Face mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Native Americans urge Deb Haaland to help tackle pollution in communities of color MORE (D-Calif.) said as he left the meeting. “Listening to Rep. Slotkin, it would be something that could get bipartisan support and would require the president to come back to Congress before any kind of attack or use of military force against Iran.”
Progressives are also pushing Democratic leaders to hold floor votes on two other bills, in addition to Slotkin's proposal.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are calling for votes on a measure from Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeOvernight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight House panel advances 6B Pentagon bill on party-line vote House panel votes to repeal 2001, 2002 war authorizations MORE (D-Calif.) to end the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war and another from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Energy: Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes | Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rollback on power plant pollution in 2022 | How climate change and human beings influence wildfires Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes Progressive fighting turns personal on internal call over antitrust bills MORE (D-Calif.) to block funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior authorization from Congress.
Both bills were included as provisions in the House version of the annual defense authorization last summer, but were left out of the final bicameral compromise that Trump signed into law last month.
Liberals said that Iran's attacks on the U.S. bases in Iraq only added more urgency to proceed with their original plans.
"I think that's part of the problem. Congress has given up for decades too much of our power. And I think this is finally a moment maybe to wake everyone up and try to reclaim some of that power," said Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanOvernight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight House panel advances 6B Pentagon bill on party-line vote Democratic tensions simmer in House between left, center MORE (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
"We're working very cooperatively with leadership" on taking action on the Lee and Khanna bills, Pocan said.
Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralNYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency The Memo: Harris, Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic divide on immigration House Democrats introduce bill to close existing gun loopholes and prevent mass shootings MORE (D-N.Y.), another progressive, said that the House should move quickly with the war powers resolution. "I don't think we should go back home without taking it up," he said.
Democrats were briefed at the Wednesday gathering by two former Obama administration veterans with expertise on Iran: Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official, and Avril Haines, Obama’s former principal deputy national security adviser.
Leaders also walked rank-and-file Democrats through what type of questions they want to ask Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief defends Milley after Trump book criticism | Addresses critical race theory | Top general says Taliban has 'strategic momentum' in war The Biden administration and Tunisia: Off to a good start Overnight Defense: Navy pulls plug on 0 million railgun effort | Esper defends Milley after Trump attacks | Navy vet charged in Jan. 6 riot wants trial moved MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE and other top Trump administration officials at this afternoon’s classified briefing on Iran.
“First, what was the intelligence on the imminent threat from Iran? Second, the attack on Soleimani was on Iraqi soil — did we warn the Iraqis or did we use Iraq as a platform without their knowledge?” said one Democratic lawmaker summarizing his party's questions. “The third is where is this going? What is the strategy?
“It’s coming across as one tactical decision after another without any broader strategy,” the lawmaker added.
--This report was updated at 11:21 a.m.