Bipartisan House duo unveils amendment to block Iran strike without Congress's approval

Bipartisan House duo unveils amendment to block Iran strike without Congress's approval
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of congressmen, including a vocal ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE, on Tuesday unveiled a measure to prevent the president from conducting a military strike against Iran without congressional approval.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment, offered by Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Armed Services chair calls defense bill 'most progressive in the history of the country' after criticism Lawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space Force deal MORE (D-Calif.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP calls for minority hearing on impeachment, threatens procedural measures Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA Tempers flare at tense Judiciary hearing on impeachment MORE (R-Fla.), would prohibit funding for U.S. military action against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted another specific statutory authorization.

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“Last week, we watched President Trump come within minutes of striking Iran and involving the United States in yet another trillion-dollar war in the Middle East,” Khanna said in a statement. “President Trump campaigned on ending costly wars overseas but given the advisors he chose and his recent risky actions, he is not living up to that promise.”

Gaetz, who frequently backs the president, added that “Congress must resolve” to make sure any conflict with Iran is initiated within the constraints of the Constitution.

“This amendment affirms what President Trump knows and believes: unfocused, unconstitutional, unending wars in the Middle East make America weaker, not stronger,” Gaetz said in his own statement. “Iran must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon and threatening international peace, but Congress must resolve to ensure that any military action is carried out constitutionally."

In an interview with Hill.TV on Monday, Trump said he does not think he needs congressional authorization to launch a military strike on Iran.

When asked if he believes he has the authority to initiate military action against Iran without first going to Congress, Trump said, "I do."

"But we’ve been keeping Congress abreast of what we’re doing ... and I think it’s something they appreciate," he said in an exclusive interview outside the Oval Office. "I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally."

Trump’s comments Monday came after he called off a planned military strike against Iran last week in response to it shooting down a U.S. drone. Trump said he decided against it because the estimated death toll was not a proportional response, leaving open the possibility of a strike he would consider proportional.

On Tuesday, he said an Iranian attack on “anything” American would prompt “great and overwhelming force.”

“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” he tweeted.

Khanna offered a similar amendment during the House Armed Services Committee’s overnight markup of the NDAA earlier this month.

But after an hour of fierce debate, Khanna agreed to pull the amendment to clarify the language after securing a commitment to have it brought to the House floor for a vote.

“This bipartisan amendment is a vital safeguard against unilateral actions by this president who selected the architect of the Iraq war to be his national security advisor,” Khanna said Tuesday. “This amendment is also proof that opposition to war with Iran transcends partisan politics. With this effort, Americans can come together around the idea that we must stop a war with Iran.”

The amendment introduced Tuesday is co-sponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Overnight Defense: Dems unveil impeachment articles against Trump | Saudi military flight students grounded after shooting | Defense bill takes heat from progressives | Pentagon watchdog to probe use of personnel on border Armed Services chair calls defense bill 'most progressive in the history of the country' after criticism MORE (D-Wash.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesPelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers This week: Impeachment inquiry moves to Judiciary Committee Juan Williams: Trump has nothing left but smears MORE (D-Conn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Democrats reach cusp of impeachment Progressives hopeful for deal with Pelosi to avert showdown on drug prices MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeBooker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings Lawmakers visit African migrants at US-Mexico border MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Md.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandWarren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre Warren adds Ayanna Pressley as campaign co-chair Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising MORE (D-N.M.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinDemocrats work to bring labor on board trade deal House Democrats rebuke State Department for 'reversal' on Israeli settlements The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House MORE (D-Mich.), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooPowerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week Democrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Democrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data MORE (D-Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowColorado rep planning sunrise run to possible sites for military memorial Bill introduced to give special immigrant visas to Kurds who helped US in Syria Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds MORE (D-Colo.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinPelosi's whiplash moment brings praise and criticism Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE (D-Mich.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment of Trump resumes MORE (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoTrump officials defend use of fake university to lure foreign students ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Lawmakers press for ICE reforms after fake school report MORE (D-Ariz.) and Seth MoultonSeth MoultonDeval Patrick beefs up campaign staff Lawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Pardoning war crimes dishonors the military MORE (D-Mass.), who is also running for president.

Democrats in the Senate are also pushing for a vote on an amendment to that chamber’s version of the NDAA that would block funding for a military strike on Iran without congressional approval.

Senate Republicans, though, appear unlikely to give the amendment a vote, leaving Democrats to decide whether they will take the uncommon step to prevent Republicans from cutting off debate on the bill.