U.S. House votes to check Trump on military action against Iran

Iowa delegation splits along party lines

U.S. President Donald Trump shown in a file photo from Jan. 19, 2018. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Thursday on a resolution to curtail President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran without first securing congressional approval. 

The chamber voted 224-194, largely along party lines, to approve the resolution from Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), which would direct Trump to halt the use of U.S. armed forces for hostilities against Iran unless it’s authorized by Congress or it’s “necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack” against the United States. 

The vote on the resolution came days after Trump ordered the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, who was in Iraq at the time. Military officials said Suleimani had active plans to kill Americans, but Trump’s critics in Congress have said the evidence of such a threat hasn’t been sufficient to risk a U.S. war against Iran.

“Last week in our view, the president, the administration conducted a provocative, disproportionate air strike against Iran, which endangered Americans and did so without consulting Congress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday ahead of the vote. “The administration must de-escalate and must prevent further violence. America and the world cannot afford war.”  

Iowa’s U.S. House delegation split along party lines in the vote, with the state’s lone Republican House member, Rep. Steve King, opposing the resolution and Democrats Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack supporting the resolution to limit the president’s military power. 

Rep. Cindy Axne
Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) speaks in a file photo from Jan. 19, 2019. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

In a statement about her vote, Axne said: “Let me be very clear: the resolution I supported today specifically ensures that our military is not constrained from evaluating imminent threats, responding in self-defense, and protecting Americans through preemptive strikes against those who might intend to do us harm. Our armed forces spend every day assessing the security of our country and its citizens, and should remain able to make immediate strategic decisions in the face of danger.”

King, in a statement, disagreed about the effect of the legislation: “Leave it to House Democrats, so consumed with hatred for this President, to increasingly bemoan the death of the world’s top terrorist and to introduce bad legislation that seeks to tie the President’s hands should a similar order need to be given in the future,” he said.

Republican Rep. Steve King
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a town hall meeting on Aug. 13, 2019. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

King added, “… House Democrats might want to send the Iranians pallets of cash like President Appeaser-in-Chief Obama did, but I stand with letting President Trump, our Commander-in-Chief, make the tough calls and take the swift and certain actions that he determines are necessary to protect our nation, our citizens, and our interests from Iranian acts of hostility.”

Three Republicans and Michigan independent Rep. Justin Amash joined Democrats to vote for the resolution. Eight Democrats voted against the measure. 

The Senate could vote as early as next week on a similar resolution from Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. 

Kaine has been courting Republicans on his effort, which would direct Trump to remove U.S. forces from hostilities against Iran within 30 days unless authorized by a declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force. 

Two Senate Republicans — Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) — have said they will support the measure, The Hill reported. 

With Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the party) holding 47 seats in the chamber and interest among Republicans, there’s a chance Kaine’s resolution will get the 51 votes needed to clear the GOP-controlled Senate. 

Kaine’s co-sponsors include Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.  Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Kaine told reporters earlier this week, “We should jealously guard the power to initiate war, not let a president take that step on his own.” Regardless of the resolution’s passage, the Virginia Democrat said he wanted to use the opportunity to get senators on the record. 

“It’s ultimately calling on Congress to not be chicken,” he said. 

 

 

 

Avatar
Robin coordinates States Newsroom’s Washington, D.C., coverage. She keeps tabs on states’ U.S. congressional delegations and writes about how decisions made by federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts impact states across the country. Before coming to StatesNewsroom, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV. She has been a guest on NPR, C-SPAN, WBUR and other outlets and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Science, Scientific American, Salon and other publications. Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in journalism from American University.