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 TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record 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 EngelOvernight Defense: Army says it isn't investigating Vindman | White House outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike | Service member dies in Africa Trump administration outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike Pompeo to testify on Iran in February 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 PelosiPelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' Short defends Trump's tweets as a 'very effective way' to communicate with Americans Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team appear to be rallying behind a resolution authored by freshman Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinThe Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg, Sanders ahead in Iowa debacle Vulnerable House Democrats benefit from fundraising surge amid impeachment Mixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates 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 ClarkJeffries: Trump budget is a 'declaration of war on the American dream' Senate acquits Trump, ending impeachment saga Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements 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 LowenthalA disaster for diplomacy and the Zionist dream Overnight Energy: Trump budget slashes EPA funding | International hunting council disbands amid lawsuit | Bill targets single-use plastics Bill targets single-use plastics in push to make manufacturers responsible 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 LeeSenior black Democrats urge party chairman to take responsibility for Iowa Lawmakers with first-hand experience using food stamps call on Trump not to cut program Abortion wars flare up in Congress MORE (D-Calif.) to end the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war and another from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocrats call for Twitter, Facebook to take down Pelosi video posted by Trump The Memo: Sanders supporters sense victory in Iowa Democrats look to ramp up fight over Trump's war powers 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 PocanUSDA takes heat as Democrats seek probe into trade aid 2020 Democratic hopefuls focus on Iowa while making final pitches Sanders endorses 9 progressive House candidates 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 CabralDemocrats ramp up calls for war powers vote after Iran strike Democrats vow court victories won't slow impeachment timeline Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite 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 EsperUS defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Trump defense chief hits 'predatory' China as rising global threat Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Kobach says he discussed his Senate bid with Trump 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.