Should Congress Prohibit the Use of Military Force Against Iran?
Do you support or oppose this bill?
by Causes | 1.30.20
UPDATED - 1/30/2020: This amendment was adopted on a vote of 236-166 along mostly party-lines.
The House is expected to vote on this legislation, which was originally introduced as H.R. 5543, as an amendment to H.R. 550 later this week. If it is adopted, we'll transfer the summary to that bill page before the House votes on passage of the underlying bill.
This bill — the No War Against Iran Act — would prohibit the use of military force in or against Iran unless Congress declares war or enacts an authorization for use of military force that meets the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. This bill couldn’t be construed as limiting the ability of the president to use necessary & appropriate force to defend U.S. allies & partners if authorized by Congress, relieving the executive branch of restrictions imposed by the War Powers Resolution, or authorizing the use of military force.
Additionally, this bill would assert several findings on the part of Congress:
- The acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran would pose a grave threat to international peace & stability, and to the national security of the U.S. and its allies, including Israel.
- Iran is a leading state sponsor of terrorism, continues to materially support the Assad regime in Syria, and is responsible for ongoing gross violations of the human rights of the people of Iran.
- The Constitution requires the president to obtain authorization from Congress before engaging in war with Iran.
Argument in Favor:
President Donald Trump risked a dangerous escalation of tensions with Iran by authorizing a drone strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani while he was coordinating with Iran-backed Shia militias in Iraq. This bill would prohibit further escalations by requiring the administration to get approval from Congress before it uses military force against Iran.
This legislation would hinder the executive branch’s ability to deter aggression by Iran and protect American citizens and military personnel in the region, in addition to U.S. allies and partners. Given that the Trump administration is already on record with a veto threat, it would be a waste of scarce legislative time to consider this bill.
Impact: Congress; the U.S. military; America’s allies; and Iran.
Cost: A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.
In-Depth: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced this bill to prohibit the use of military force against Iran without authorization from Congress:
“Today, we are seeing a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East. A war with Iran could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars and lead to even more deaths, more conflict, more displacement in that already highly volatile region of the world. War must be the last recourse in our international relations. That is why our Founding Fathers gave the responsibility over war to Congress. Congressional inaction in the face of the threat of a catastrophic and unconstitutional Middle East conflict is not acceptable.”
The White House vowed to veto this legislation if it were to pass Congress and reach President Donald Trump’s desk because it would undermine its ability to deter Iranian aggression in the Middle East in the wake of the strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani:
“Following the successful United States action to eliminate Soleimani from the battlefield on January 2 and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile strike, Iran may be refraining from further aggression. This legislation would undermine the Administration’s reestablishment of deterrence with Iran, which could perversely make violent conflict with Iran more likely. Additionally, H.R. 5543 would hinder the President’s ability to protect United States diplomats, forces, and interests in the region from the continued threat posed by Iran and its proxies. Specifically, H.R. 5543’s express bar on the obligation or expenditure of any funds for any use of military force against Iran absent a prior authorization by Congress could interfere with the President’s ability to protect United States interests in the region, including the ability to protect United States citizens and allies and partners, including Israel.”
The No War Against Iran Act has the support of 93 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Democrats.
Of Note: Following the strike that killed Soleimani, the House passed a resolution that would use the War Powers Resolution to halt the use of U.S. military personnel against Iran on a mostly party-line vote of 224-194.
Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which functions as a combination of an external intelligence agency and special operations unit. The Quds Force itself is considered a terror organization by the U.S., and supports several terror groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas & the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza & the West Bank, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shia militias in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The Quds Forces’ activities in Iraq contributed to the deaths of more than 600 American military personnel and the wounding of thousands more in Iraq. Soleimani, along with a senior leader of an Iraqi Shia militia sponsored by Iran, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020.
- Sponsoring Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) Press Release
- White House Statement of Administration Policy (Opposed)
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua R.M. Dewberry - 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Public Domain)
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