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 TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat 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) KhannaYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Khanna: I 'didn't appreciate' Castro's attack on Biden Overwhelming majority of voters want lawmakers to work with other party MORE (D-Calif.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzState probes of Google, Facebook to test century-old antitrust laws Five takeaways on Trump's ouster of John Bolton GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal 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 SmithIran talks unlikely despite window of opportunity GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback MORE (D-Wash.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Giuliani tears into Democrats after House opens probe into whether he pressured Ukraine to target Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Live coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress MORE (D-Conn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez calls for Kavanaugh to be impeached Why are we turning a blind eye to right-wing incitement of violence? Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question MORE (D-Md.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandWarren tells Native Americans: 'I have made mistakes' Warren unveils Native American policy plan Booker eyes farm conservation, reforestation and wetlands restoration in climate plan MORE (D-N.M.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinThe USMCA is an opportunity to keep our promises to working Americans Michigan city declines to renew contract with ICE to hold detainees Michigan House Democrats plan vigil for Iraqi man who died after deportation MORE (D-Mich.), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooOvernight Health Care: Public's view of drug companies sinks to record low in poll | NYC declares end to measles outbreak | Health advocates fear Planned Parenthood funding loss could worsen STD crisis Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Planned Parenthood ousts its president | Harris releases drug pricing plan | House Dem drug plan delayed until after recess Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August MORE (D-Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowOvernight Defense: Trump ousts Bolton in shocker | Fallout, reaction from GOP senators | Senate spending talks in chaos | Dems eye vote to nix Trump border emergency Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment MORE (D-Colo.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinLooking for electability in all the wrong places Mueller report fades from political conversation House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death MORE (D-Mich.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Trump bashes Mueller for 'ineptitude,' slams 'sick' Democrats backing impeachment Pelosi denies she's 'trying to run out the clock' on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben Gallego2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft Harris picks up endorsement from influential lawmaker as support slips Democratic lawmaker: Russia, China benefitting from continued US troop presence in Afghanistan MORE (D-Ariz.) and Seth MoultonSeth MoultonYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Wall Street ends volatile month in major test for Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump's travel plans 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.