House approves amendment seeking to block Trump from taking military action against Iran

The House on Friday voted 251-170 to approve an amendment intended to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE from taking military action against Iran.

The amendment would prohibit funding U.S. military action against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted another specific statutory authorization.

Some Republicans broke rank to support it, including vocal Trump ally Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs New HBO documentary lets Gaetz, Massie, Buck offer their take on how to 'drain the swamp' MORE (R-Fla.), who co-sponsored the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Twenty-seven Republicans sided with Democrats to support the amendment, while seven Democrats voted against it.

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Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaGoogle's work from home extension could be a boon for rural America Sanders, Khanna introduce bill to produce face masks for all Americans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former HHS Secretary Sebelius gives Trump administration a D in handling pandemic; Oxford, AstraZeneca report positive dual immunity results from early vaccine trial MORE (D-Calif.), the amendment’s chief sponsor, touted the measure as sending a strong signal to Trump.

“It reminds the president that the American people, both Democrats and Republicans, don’t want another war in the Middle East,” Khanna told reporters “The president was fully aware of this. This is what he said when he campaigned, and he’s probably going to want to say it again when he campaigns again. So I think it’s a reminder to him of where public sentiment is and that he shouldn’t get too influenced by the Washington establishment.”

The amendment was a key demand of progressives as Democratic leaders seek their votes to pass the NDAA without Republican support.

Progressives think the NDAA’s $733 billion price tag is too high. But they have indicated they will support the bill anyway if key amendments pass, particularly ones related to Trump’s war powers.

The Iran amendment specifically was seen as urgent amid spiking tensions with Tehran. Trump said last month he was minutes away from launching a military strike on Iran after it shot down a U.S. drone.

“If my war-hungry colleagues — some of whom have already suggested that we invade Venezuela, North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunch time tomorrow — if they’re so certain in their case against Iran, let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor,” Gaetz said on the House floor.

Most Republicans, though, argued the amendment would tie Trump and the military’s hands in protecting against threats from Iran.

“You don’t handcuff the president, the commander in chief, you don’t handcuff him in advance of any preparation from dealing with a hostile, state sponsor of terror, and this is just wrong,” House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers House Republicans urge Trump to take action against Chinese hackers targeting coronavirus research Mike Siegel wins Democratic runoff, will face Rep. Michael McCaul in rematch MORE (R-Texas) said.

The amendment's inclusion in the House version of the bill sets up a clash with the Senate. The upper chamber voted on a similar amendment when it considered its version of the NDAA, but could not muster the 60 votes needed for it to pass.

The two chambers will need to reconcile their versions of the bill before sending it to Trump’s desk.