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 TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial 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) KhannaSanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-Calif.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz in Twitter battle with Florida House Republican Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Conservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons 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 SmithBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (D-Wash.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesTwitter users invoke Merrick Garland after McConnell, Graham comments on impeachment trial Pelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers This week: Impeachment inquiry moves to Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Conn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Impeachment trial forces senators to scrap fundraisers Ocasio-Cortez knocks Biden: He 'helped sell the invasion of Iraq' and 'spent years working to cut Social Security' MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules House revives agenda after impeachment storm Steyer calls for cuts to defense spending MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownOvernight Defense: Dems raise pressure on Esper to block border wall funds | Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate | Day one dominated by fight over rules House Dems express 'deepening concern' over plans to take .2B from Pentagon for border wall Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa MORE (D-Md.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHaaland, Davids included in 'Jeopardy' clue for historic first as Native American congresswomen Pelosi announces Porter, Haaland will sit on Oversight panel Overnight Energy: House Dems propose halt to drilling on public lands | Former Van Drew staffers land jobs at Energy committee | Defense bill passes without key measures on 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-N.M.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinOn The Money: House approves Trump USMCA deal in bipartisan vote | Senate sends .4T spending bill to Trump's desk | Why budget watchdogs are howling over the spending deal Democrats get the health care fight they want with prescription drug bill House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Mich.), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case | Lawmakers press Trump officials to change marijuana rules | Bloomberg vows to ban flavored e-cigs if elected MORE (D-Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Abortion protester briefly interrupts impeachment trial White House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team MORE (D-Colo.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (D-Mich.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiLA Mayor Eric Garcetti endorses Biden Impeachment battle lines harden ahead of pivotal week Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoStage production 'Americano!' tells the life and struggles of a 'Dreamer' Democratic lawmaker says Trump 'doesn't have full command' on Iran Democratic Congressman: Why Progressives have been pushing for War Powers resolution for months MORE (D-Ariz.) and Seth MoultonSeth MoultonOvernight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Congress reacts to US assassination of Iranian general Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far 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.