House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran

The House has passed a resolution aimed at constraining President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE’s ability to take military action against Iran, sending it to the president’s desk for his expected veto.

In a largely party-line 227-186 vote, the House approved the resolution that would direct the president to “terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against” Iran unless Congress specifically authorizes it. Six Republicans voted for the measure.

The Senate passed the resolution in a 55-45 vote last month, with eight Republicans siding with Democrats to support it. Neither chamber of Congress is expected to have the votes to override Trump’s likely veto.

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The passage of the resolution comes after tensions with Iran spiked earlier this year to the point where Washington and Iran appeared to be on the brink of war.

U.S.-Iran tensions have risen since Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.

But hostility skyrocketed in early January with a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Iran responded with a rocket attack on two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. More than 100 U.S. troops were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries caused by the attack.

Since the strikes, both sides have stepped back from the brink. But just before the House started voting Wednesday, the U.S. military confirmed that 15 rockets hit Camp Taji in Iraq, and several reports said that two Americans and a British service member were killed.

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Officials have not placed blame for the attack, but suspicion immediately fell on Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq.

During floor debate on the measure, some Republicans argued the resolution is no longer relevant.

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the resolution is “based on a false promise.”

“It orders the president to terminate hostilities against Iran. The problem is, for the other side, we are not engaged in hostilities in Iran,” McCaul said.

But supporters of the war powers resolution argued it is still necessary to assert Congress’ constitutional authority over declaring war.

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney Democrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department MORE (D-N.Y.) said while lawmakers are “all relieved that tensions have ratcheted down,” it is “not an accurate reading of the law” to say the resolution is unnecessary or wouldn’t have an effect because the United States and Iran aren’t in a shooting war.

“Congress doesn’t have to wait until the president alone decides to use military force again,” Engel said ahead of the vote. “Indeed, it’s our responsibility to do something. Because we know that tensions could flare up again at a moment’s notice, Iran has not been deterred as the administration promised.”

Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution: Reps. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckHillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules Judge rules Apple is not 'illegal monopolist' in high-profile Epic case Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit MORE (Colo..), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieReps. Greene, Roy fined for not wearing masks on House floor Sixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine Kentucky GOP lawmaker deletes tweet comparing vaccine mandates to Holocaust MORE (Ky.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithGOP lawmakers press social media giants for data on impacts on children's mental health Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack House Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs MORE (Va.), Tom ReedTom ReedLIVE COVERAGE: Tax hikes take center stage in Ways and Means markup It's now Pelosi's move on bipartisan roads bill The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer MORE (N.Y.), David SchweikertDavid SchweikertLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection We must address the declining rate of startup business launches Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' MORE (Ariz.) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because many Republicans 'have remained silent' Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes McCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (Mich.).

McCaul on Wednesday also attacked Democrats for bringing the resolution up for a vote while the nation is gripped by fear over coronavirus, arguing constituents he’s spoken to recently have asked about the virus and “were really not concerned about the war powers resolution.”

The Trump administration has defended the Soleimani strike as necessary to “reestablish deterrence” with Iran. Administration officials have also claimed, without providing evidence, that Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks. 

Democrats have blasted the administration’s shifting explanations for the drone strike and failure to provide evidence on Soleimani’s alleged plots. 

The House previously passed a similar resolution in January a week after the Soleimani strike. The main difference between that measure and the one passed Wednesday is the type of resolution. The January resolution would not have had to get Trump’s signature, but that also raised questions about whether it would be binding.

The resolution passed Wednesday, which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Va.), requires Trump’s signature.

The White House has threatened to veto the measure, saying it “fails to account for present reality.” Ahead of last month’s Senate vote on the resolution, Trump also urged senators to vote against by arguing it would “show weakness.”