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 TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee 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 EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 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 PelosiMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster House Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team appear to be rallying behind a resolution authored by freshman Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinTwo men charged with making threatening calls to Michigan officials House Democrats request documents from DHS intelligence office about Jan. 6 attack Lawmakers mull domestic terrorism statute in wake of Jan. 6 attack 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 says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated 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 LowenthalOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid | Biden honeymoon with green groups faces tests | Electric vehicles are poised to aid Biden in climate fight Lawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 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 LeeLawmakers, Martin Luther King III discuss federal responses to systematic racism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds MORE (D-Calif.) to end the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war and another from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaBiden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision Democrats look to improve outreach to Asian and Latino communities Democrats offer bills to boost IRS audits of rich, corporations 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 PocanSenate Democrats likely to face key test of unity on 2022 budget Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget 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 CabralLawmakers remember actress Cicely Tyson Over 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history 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 EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Trump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC China labels human rights criticism 'groundless' 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.