Democrats alarmed by 'massive escalation' with Iran, lack of consultation with Congress

Congressional Democrats are raising alarm over the lack of consultation from the Trump administration ahead of a deadly military strike against Iran’s top general, which lawmakers called “reckless” and a “massive escalation” against Iran.

The strike by a Reaper drone that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani caught lawmakers in both parties by surprise, leaving Democrats in particular angry over the lack of consultation and concerned about potential retaliation against U.S. forces and allies.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelEx-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets Progressives soaring after big primary night Carolyn Maloney defeats Suraj Patel to win New York primary: AP MORE (D-N.Y.) warned Iran could use its “global reach” to “seek retribution for this strike, endangering the lives of Americans around the world.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are now again on the brink of direct confrontation in the Middle East. Tonight’s action represents a massive escalation in our conflict with Iran with unpredictable consequences,” he said.

Suleimani led the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and was viewed as the mastermind of Iran’s military and intelligence operations. He was killed along with Iranian-backed militia members as he was departing Baghdad International Airport.

While many Republican lawmakers put out statements praising the strikes, Democrats criticized the action for lacking congressional authority and further destabilizing the region.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Negotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference MORE (D-Calif.) spoke to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Esper says 'most believe' Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says 'nobody knows yet' what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID'd as fourth military COVID-19 death Trump tempers his description of Beirut explosion as an attack: 'Nobody knows yet' Meadows defends Trump's description of Beirut explosion as an 'attack' MORE on Thursday night to get an explanation of the military strike after she received no advance notification from the administration.

Pelosi also released a statement saying the strike was not authorized and Congress was not consulted on the decision.

“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran," Pelosi said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress," she added.

The military strike comes on the eve of Trump’s expected Senate impeachment trial, a parallel to then-President Clinton’s four-day bombing campaign of targets in Iraq in December of 1998, just as the GOP-controlled House was preparing to impeach him.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Trump outraises Biden in July, surpasses billion for the cycle Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would 'gut' Americans With Disabilities Act MORE, who is running for president, warned in a statement released late Tuesday evening that Trump had “just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” and now needs to explain his “strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel” as well as U.S. interests at home and abroad.

The sudden strike sets up a debate in Congress next week on whether Trump needs to seek authorization to respond to expected retaliation.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineEx-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal MORE (D-Va.), former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE’s 2016 presidential running mate, called on Congress to act immediately to curtail Trump’s military authority before he sparks another war in the Middle East.

“Trump’s decision to tear up a diplomatic deal that was working and resume escalating aggressions with Iran has brought us to the brink of another war in the Middle East,” Kaine said, referring to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under President Obama.

“Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign has made the region less stable, divided us from key allies, and is driving our adversaries together. Congress must act to stop President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE from entangling America in yet another unnecessary war in the Middle East.”

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) warned that Trump’s “reckless strike” will “embolden hardliners in Iran, increase the likelihood of extremist retaliation throughout the region, and encourage more anti-Americanism in Iraq.”

“We have heard nothing so far from this administration about how they plan to deescalate this dangerous situation and prevent this from spiraling into an ever-escalating series of retaliatory actions,” he said.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Connecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted that Soleimani’s death would lead to reprisals and chastised Trump for breaking with the traditional U.S. policy of not targeting foreign leaders for assassination.

He also challenged the president’s legal authority to conduct the strike.

“Now, it is up to Congress to press the president to disclose his legal basis for this action and the plan for how our nation manages the fallout. I doubt there is congressional authority for this strike, and I doubt the president has a plan for what comes next,” he said. “These are questions Congress must now ask.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats introduce bill to ban chlorpyrifos, other pesticides to protect farmworkers GOP lawmaker says he will oppose any attempts to delay election Trump raises idea of delaying election MORE (N.M.), another Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, warned Trump “is bringing our nation to the brink of an illegal war with Iran without any congressional approval as required under the Constitution.”

“Such a reckless escalation of hostilities is likely a violation of Congress’ war making authority — as well as our basing agreement with Iraq — putting U.S. forces and citizens in danger and very possibly sinking us into another disastrous war in the Middle East,” he said.

Other Democratic presidential candidates also slammed Trump’s decision.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressives soaring after big primary night 'Absolutely incredible': Ocasio-Cortez congratulates Cori Bush on upset victory over Lacy Clay Sanders supporters launch six-figure ad campaign explaining why they're voting for Biden MORE (I-Vt.) said: “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war.”

“Trump promised to end endless wars but this action puts us on the path to another one,” he said.