WASHINGTON – The House will vote Thursday on legislation to limit the Trump administration’s ability to launch a military strike against Iran and target other global hot spots.
Lawmakers will take up two bills certain to unleash a fresh debate over President Donald Trump’s decision to target Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 2.
One bill would block Trump from using any federal funds for “unauthorized military force against Iran.” The second would repeal a 2002 law that authorized the Iraq war waged by then-President George W. Bush.
The Trump administration said the 2002 Iraq war law gave the president the authority to target Soleimani. The Trump and Obama administrations have also cited the 2002 law as justification for military strikes outside of Iraq – including in Yemen and Syria.
The two bills are likely to pass the House, which is controlled by Democrats, but will face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump could also veto both measures.
Trump blasted the two measures on Wednesday.
“With Votes in the House tomorrow, Democrats want to make it harder for Presidents to defend America, and stand up to, as an example, Iran,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Protect our GREAT COUNTRY!”
Democrats say Trump acted recklessly when he targeted Soleimani – a decision that heightened U.S.-Iranian tensions and sparked fears of a broader conflict in the Middle East. Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and sponsor of the Iran funding measure, said the administration seemed to driven by “retribution,” rather than sound policy or legal authority, in its decision to target Soleimani.
“But that is not justified without coming to Congress,” he said, nor it is a reason to get the U.S. “into another endless war that’s going to cost trillions of dollars.”
Most Republicans are expected to oppose the two measures. GOP lawmakers applauded Trump’s decision to target Soleimani, saying he was a terrorist with American blood on his hands. And they said the two House bills would tie the president’s hands at a perilous moment.
While the 2002 law authorized the war against then-Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, it also identified Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations operating in Iraq as threats against the United States.
“Members will recall that Al Qaeda in Iraq later became ISIS, a brutal transnational terrorist organization that continues to threaten American lives and interests,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a House debate on the repeal measure last year.
McCaul and others have argued that Congress should not repeal any military force authorizations unless lawmakers pass updated bills that would allow the U.S. to continue its fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.
The Senate is also poised to debate Trump’s war-making powers, although perhaps not until the Trump impeachment trial has concluded.