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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 TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds 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) KhannaOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (D-Calif.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGiuliani has discussed possible pardon with Trump: report Hannity urges Trump to pardon himself Gaetz: Trump 'should pardon everyone' including himself to quash liberal 'bloodlust' 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 SmithDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget House Armed Services chairman, top Republican urge passage of compromise defense bill without Section 230 repeal MORE (D-Wash.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Meet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDemocrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE (D-Conn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHarry Styles hits back at criticism over wearing dress on Vogue cover 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Obama says Democrats should make sure Ocasio-Cortez has a platform MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeLouisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis Countering China's influence in the Caribbean with a second Caribbean Basin Initiative The Memo: Tension builds around key Biden nominees MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownHouse Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing Esper, amid resignation talk, reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases MORE (D-Md.), Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHaaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  Lujan Grisham turned down Interior post, says transition source Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' MORE (D-N.M.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? MORE (D-Mich.), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHow to expand rural broadband, fast and affordably Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses MORE (D-Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowGiffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall Lawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown MORE (D-Colo.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinBickering Democrats return with divisions Questions swirl at Pentagon after wave of departures Overnight Defense: Another Defense official resigns | Pentagon chief says military 'remains strong' despite purge | Top contender for Biden DOD secretary would be historic pick MORE (D-Mich.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China GOP seizes on 'defund the police' to galvanize base Peace Corps faces uncertain future with no volunteers in field MORE (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoGallego tapped to run Hispanic Caucus's campaign arm Congress: Support the ARC Act to prevent amputations Hispanic Caucus endorses Castro for Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (D-Ariz.) and Seth MoultonSeth MoultonBattle for Pentagon post in Biden Cabinet heats up US national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Overnight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing 'chaos' 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.