On Friday, the House voted to rollback Trump’s ability to strike Iran militarily. A bipartisan provision was adopted that requires Trump to get Congress’s approval before he can authorize military force against Tehran.
Lawmakers voted 251 to 170 to pass the provision. The vote reflects lawmakers’ growing desire to take back long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace. The need to reign things back in became urgent as tensions escalated with Iran.
Back in June, Trump brought the United States to the brink of war before abruptly calling off the military strike just minutes before it was set to launch.
Trump stated last month that he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran. The vote Friday was clearly a bipartisan rebuttal. The rebuttal was led by Representatives Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat from California, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who is one of Trump’s most strident Republican allies in Congress.
“When this passes, it will be a clear statement from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that this country is tired of endless wars, that we do not want another war in the Middle East,” Khanna said before the amendment vote.
“Frankly, what it will prevent is what this president promised to the American people not to do — to get into another endless, costly war in the Middle East,” Khana said on the House floor.
Mr. Gaetz issued a challenge to his Republican peers late Thursday night.
“If my war-hungry colleagues, some of whom have already suggested we invade Venezuela and North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow; if they’re so certain of their case against Iran,” Mr. Gaetz said, “let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.”
The amendment was attached to the annual defense policy bill, and it will not restrict Trump’s ability to respond to an attack.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, called the measure “a propaganda win for the Iranian regime and the Houthi allies.”
“This will tie our military’s hands at a perilous time. We need Iran and its terrorist proxies to think twice before they attack Americans, our friends or our interests,” McCaul said.
Senator Todd Udall and a group of bipartisan lawmakers tried to attach a similar measure to the Senate’s version of the defense policy bill last month, but the amendment failed by a vote of 50 to 40.
Politico reports that “if the larger defense bill clears the House on Friday, it must still be reconciled with a Senate version that is considerably less confrontational with the Trump administration. There is little doubt that Senate negotiators will try to strip out many of the House’s liberal-leaning provisions, including the Iran amendment and another measure passed by the House on Thursday that would cut off American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.”
The House Armed Services Committee’s Rep. Mac Thornberry said military commanders told him the language would limit them too much.
“We have a number of ways that are not war but are the legitimate use of force, where the people who have to live under it think this goes too far and prevents them from doing what they need to do,” Thornberry said. “This is only good news for Iran.”
The House also agreed to a one-year prohibition on the sale of air-to-ground munitions used in the conflict in Yemen to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It did provide an exemption for any export or license suspensions that would incur a cost to the U.S. government.
The House was only willing to go so far on the topic. Another Lee amendment that sought to slash $17 billion from the operations and maintenance portion of the 2020 war budget was defeated.