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 John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says 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 EngelHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Democrats press Pompeo to help Americans stranded abroad amid coronavirus 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team appear to be rallying behind a resolution authored by freshman Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinStates see surge of scams, price-gouging tied to pandemic Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Sanders looks to regain momentum in must-win Michigan 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 scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Democrat says House vote on trillion aid deal could fall to Friday MA lawmakers press HHS secretary on status of state's protective equipment 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 LowenthalHouse Democrats jam GOP with coronavirus bill Federal lawmakers finally have a real plan to fight plastic pollution — will they step up to the plate? Now is our chance to turn the tide on ocean plastic pollution 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 LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif.) to end the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war and another from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Defense Production Act urgently needed for critical medical gear 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order 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 PocanStudents with disabilities could lose with COVID-19 stimulus package Overnight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru Democrats introduce bill to send coronavirus tests to US troops in Middle East 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 CabralObama presses for social distancing policies to remain in place Self-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' Activists, analysts demand Congress consider immigrants in coronavirus package 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 EsperDefense chief says states can use National Guard to enforce stay-at-home orders Overnight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help with outbreak | Pentagon shipment of ventilators delayed | Pompeo urges countries to be more 'transparent' with virus data Pentagon has not yet sent 2,000 ventilators due to lack of shipment location MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSusan Rice scolds Pompeo for using 'Wuhan virus' term Overnight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help with outbreak | Pentagon shipment of ventilators delayed | Pompeo urges countries to be more 'transparent' with virus data US tells Maduro, Guaidó to 'step aside' in Venezuela 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.