Lawmakers tell Trump to get approval for military action in Yemen

Lawmakers tell Trump to get approval for military action in Yemen
© Getty Images

A mostly Democratic group of 55 House lawmakers has delivered a letter to President Trump telling him he should get congressional approval if wants to expand U.S. involvement in the Yemeni civil war.

“As U.S. Representatives, we take seriously the right and responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of force, or to refuse to do so, as mandated by the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution,” they wrote.

“We expect that any direct military actions pursued by the administration against the Yemeni Houthis be brought before Congress for consideration and authorization for approval before they are executed.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The delivery of the letter — signatures for which were gathered starting last month — comes at a time when debate over congressional authorization of U.S. military actions is peaking.

Lawmakers renewed calls for Congress to authorize military actions after Trump ordered a U.S. missile strike against a base used by the Syrian government amid that country’s civil war.

The letter was organized by Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanHannity decries Green New Deal as 'economically guaranteed-to-be-devastating' Ocasio-Cortez unveils Green New Deal climate resolution Trump’s AIDS turnaround greeted with skepticism by some advocates MORE (D-Wis.), Justin AmashJustin AmashBusiness, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration House approves motion condemning anti-Semitism Schiff: Intel chiefs testimony may ‘undermine’ Trump’s ability to declare emergency for wall MORE (R-Mich.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.). The rest of the signatories were Democrats.

Several reports late last month said Trump was considering a request from Defense Secretary James Mattis to approve U.S. surveillance, intelligence, refueling and operational planning for a United Arab Emirates-led offensive on Hodeida, a key Red Sea port held by Houthi rebels.

Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since March 2015, when Houthi rebels took over the capital of Sanaa and President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled to the southern city of Aden. Saudi Arabia, concerned about Iran’s support of the Houthis in a neighboring country, formed a coalition and intervened in support of Hadi.

The United States has supported the campaign by selling the Saudis billions of dollars of weapons, providing intelligence and helping with logistics such as air refueling.

In a statement accompanying the letter Tuesday, Pocan said the offensive on Hodeida could push Yemen, which is on the brink of famine, into a full-blown famine.

“Congress is a direct line to the people and this letter is a first step in reasserting our Constitutional check on presidential powers,” he said. “I am committed to pursuing all tools at our disposal to ensure President Trump abides by our Constitution before possibly plunging our country into another senseless conflict.” 

“The Constitution vests in Congress the power to commence war," Amash added. "If the president supports our involvement in a foreign war, he must make the case to Congress and the American people.”