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 TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license 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) KhannaDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Defense Production Act urgently needed for critical medical gear 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order MORE (D-Calif.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell Harris knocks Gaetz for taking issue with money for Howard in relief package Critics hit Florida governor over lack of 'sweeping' coronavirus response 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 SmithOvernight Defense: Navy chief resigns over aircraft carrier controversy | Trump replaces Pentagon IG | Hospital ship crew member tests positive for coronavirus President tightens grip on federal watchdogs Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis MORE (D-Wash.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse lawmakers call on U.S. airlines to help repatriate Americans stranded abroad Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDemocrats get assurances from Cuccinelli on immigrants, coronavirus care Gaetz wears gas mask on House floor during vote on bill to fight coronavirus Democrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure MORE (D-Conn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez calls for extending census period Harris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill 'Drag Race' teases first look at guest judge Ocasio-Cortez MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownDemocrat refuses to yield House floor, underscoring tensions on coronavirus vote Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings endorses Biden ahead of Florida primary Buttigieg, Klobuchar face uphill battle in pivot to diverse states MORE (D-Md.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandPressure mounts for national parks closure amid coronavirus We must demand our government decrease emissions from federal public lands Asian Pacific American Caucus vice chair 'shocked and dismayed' GOP leader referred to 'Chinese coronavirus' MORE (D-N.M.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinThe COVID-19 pandemic calls for the most urgent possible action US plan warns coronavirus pandemic could last 18 months: report A disaster for diplomacy and the Zionist dream MORE (D-Mich.), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooBottom line Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter dismantle Russian interference campaign targeting African Americans | YouTube to allow ads on coronavirus videos | Trump signs law banning federal funds for Huawei equipment House Democrats introduce bills to penalize census misinformation MORE (D-Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Here are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE (D-Colo.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus States see surge of scams, price-gouging tied to pandemic Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal MORE (D-Mich.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with outbreak | Trump to expand use of defense law to build ventilators | Hospital ships receiving few patients Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak Biden rise calms Democratic jitters MORE (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoDemocratic super PAC launches ad targeting Trump's 'alternative facts' on coronavirus Overnight Defense: Trump 'may look into' dismissal of Navy captain | Acting Navy chief stands by speech calling ousted captain 'stupid' | Dems call for chief's firing | Hospital ship to take coronavirus patients Pentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus MORE (D-Ariz.) and Seth MoultonSeth MoultonThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Debruyne Says Global Response Platform Needed; Navarro Saw It Coming Asian American lawmaker warns of fear of racism over coronavirus stigma Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 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.