The House will vote Thursday on a resolution to limit President Trump’s ability to take future military action against Iran without congressional authorization, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday afternoon.
Pelosi’s statement came after a classified lawmaker briefing from top administration officials following attacks by Iran the night before on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops.
The resolution directs the president to end the use of U.S. armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran unless Congress has formally authorized it or if there is an “imminent armed attack upon the United States.” It was introduced on Wednesday by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a former CIA analyst who served three tours in Iraq and represents a competitive district.
“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. Our concerns were not addressed by the President’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the Administration’s briefing today,” Pelosi said.
“Today, to honor our duty to keep the American people safe, the House will move forward with a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” Pelosi added.
Progressives have also been pushing Democratic leaders to hold votes on two additional bills. One from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) would prohibit funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior authorization from Congress while the other, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would repeal the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq War.
Moments before Pelosi’s announcement, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus held a press conference calling for votes as soon as this week on the resolution as well as the two bills from Khanna and Lee.
Pelosi said that the House “may” vote on those measures but didn’t commit to a time frame.
“The House may also soon consider additional legislation on the floor to keep America safe,” Pelosi said.
Khanna’s and Lee’s bills had both been included in the House’s version of the annual defense authorization bill last summer. Both the provisions were left out of the final bicameral compromise that Trump signed into law last month.
Lawmakers said Wednesday that they were trying to work something out that ensures Slotkin’s resolution will have a “privileged” status in the Senate and therefore require action by the upper chamber.
They were mindful of an episode last year in which a war powers resolution they believed was privileged, calling for the end of any U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, ran afoul of the Senate rules. The House passed the measure, but after House Republicans successfully added an unrelated provision condemning anti-Semitism, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that it was not germane and therefore couldn’t automatically get a vote.
The House had to later conduct a second vote on the Yemen resolution, which the Senate later cleared. But Trump vetoed the measure, which ultimately did not secure the two-thirds majority to override his opposition.
“The Speaker and others have learned from that experience,” Khanna, who also led the Yemen effort last year, said shortly before Slotkin’s resolution was unveiled. “Everyone is working to make sure that whatever we come up with gets a vote in the Senate, because if it’s de-privileged, [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] won’t bring it up.”
Once the House passes the resolution, the Senate would have to take it up within 10 days and would only need a simple majority to reach Trump’s desk. But the resolution appears unlikely to succeed in the Senate, where most Republicans have rallied behind Trump’s actions in Iran.
Pelosi previously announced in a letter to Democrats on Sunday that the House would vote this week on the resolution led by Slotkin, but had not specified when.
Democrats remained steadfast in their support for voting on the resolution after Iran claimed credit for attacks on two bases in Iraq housing U.S. military personnel Tuesday night in retaliation for the Trump administration killing a top general, Qassem Soleimani, in an airstrike last week. No casualties were reported in Tuesday’s attacks.
Trump on Wednesday said that Iran “appears to be standing down” and announced that his administration would impose new “punishing” sanctions instead of using further military force.
“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said in an address at the White House. “These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”
Democrats said they were dissatisfied by the Trump administration’s presentation during the classified briefing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The briefers included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
“If there is evidence there, we have not seen it. There was no raw intelligence that was presented to us,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said at a press conference after the briefing. “We continue to see that this seems to be just a reckless action of a president who believes he can act without congressional authority.”