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 TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad 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 EngelNew York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Trump's WHO decision raises bipartisan concerns in House 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 PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team appear to be rallying behind a resolution authored by freshman Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinWill Congress finally address toxic 'forever chemicals?' Overnight Defense: Trump's move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd's death 'a national tragedy' Democrats blast Trump's use of military against protests 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 ClarkHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid 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: EPA declines to regulate chemical tied to developmental damage | Democrats unveil .5T infrastructure plan | Land management bureau eases requirements for oil, gas royalty cut requests Land management bureau lessens requirements for oil and gas royalty cut requests Police unions face lobbying fights at all levels of government 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 LeeState legislatures consider US Capitol's Confederate statues House eyes votes to remove symbols of Confederates from Capitol Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (D-Calif.) to end the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war and another from Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal It's time to eliminate land-based nuclear missiles Stronger patent rights would help promote US technological leadership 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 PocanThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Celebrities fundraise for Markey ahead of Massachusetts Senate primary 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 CabralHispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president Hispanic lawmakers back CBC on police reform — an issue for both communities Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress 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: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban 116 House Democrats push for end to transgender military ban following Supreme Court ruling Vindman, key impeachment witness, to retire from Army MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening Pompeo: State Department 'will work with Congress' on pledged funding to WHO 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.