/Pelosi says House to send clear war powers statement to Trump Thursday

Pelosi says House to send clear war powers statement to Trump Thursday

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that the House would send a clear statement to President Donald Trump on Thursday saying that he should not take any further military action against Iran without getting approval from Congress.

The Democratic-led House was expected to pass a new war powers resolution Thursday afternoon that sought to limit the president’s military action against Iran. The vote comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran after Trump authorized a U.S. airstrike last week to kill top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

“Last week, in our view, the administration conducted a provocative disproportionate airstrike against Iran which endangered Americans, and did so without consulting Congress,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference on Thursday.

Asked if the Trump administration misled the American public in justifying the airstrike, Pelosi said that while she can’t share the classified information that she was briefed on, “I do not believe in terms of what is in the public domain that they have made the country safer by what they did.”

Pelosi said that when she was briefed on the airstrike over the weekend by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, she said that they were “disdainful in terms of not consulting Congress” and “dismissive.”

The president himself, asked Thursday about whether congressional authorization was needed for further military action against Iran, said “you don’t have to,” pointing to a need to “make split-second decisions.”

Still, he said, “in certain cases, I wouldn’t even mind doing it.”

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The five-page resolution, sponsored by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., a former CIA analyst, emphasizes that if the president wants to take the U.S. to war, he or she must get authorization from Congress.

Pelosi said that Democrats had decided to make the resolution nonbinding, which means it would not go to the president’s desk for his signature.

“This is a statement of the Congress of the United States. I will not have that statement diminished by having the president veto it or not,” she said.

Because the resolution is privileged, the Senate may be forced to vote on the House-passed bill or a similar resolution that’s been introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

The legislation makes clear that Iran’s government is a lead state sponsor of terrorism and that Soleimani was the “lead architect” of destabilizing activities around the world. It also states that the U.S. has an “inherent right to self-defense against imminent armed attacks” and “maintains the right to ensure the safety of diplomatic personnel serving abroad.”

Specifically, it directs the president to terminate the use of U.S. Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military unless Congress has declared war or enacted a specific authorization or unless that action is necessary to defend against an imminent attack.

Trump urged GOP members Thursday morning to oppose the measure. “Hope that all House Republicans will vote against Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution … ” he tweeted.

The Defense Department said that the Soleimani strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” and that Soleimani had been actively developing plans to attack U.S. diplomatic and service members in Iraq and in other parts of the region.

Democrats have demanded that the administration share the intelligence backing that assertion with lawmakers. Many of them left classified briefings by top administration officials on Capitol Hill on Wednesday saying they were dissatisfied with the information presented that Soleimani posed an immediate threat to the U.S., or that the administration had the proper legal justification for targeting him.

After the strike, Democrats expressed worry that it would spark a war with Iran, which they said can only be declared by Congress. Top officials have said that they based the strike on the 2002 authorization for the use of military force that Congress passed to authorize the war against Iraq when it was led by Saddam Hussein.

Iran retaliated Tuesday when it launched a dozen ballistic missiles from Iran targeting U.S. bases in Iraq. On Wednesday morning, Trump announced that Iran appeared to be “standing down.”

Two GOP senators — Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah — left the Senate briefing Wednesday echoing the frustrations of Democrats on the basis for the decision to target Soleimani, with Lee saying “it was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”

Trump said Thursday that Lee and Paul had “wanted information that is very hard to get” due to the need for the military to protect sources. “I get along great with Mike Lee, I’ve never seen him like that” he said, adding that “other people have called and said it was the greatest presentation.”

Pelosi said that the House will soon consider another proposal from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., which would repeal the 2002 use of force authorization. “It needs to be addressed, it needs to be rewritten … specific to the danger that we are facing,” she said.

Adam Edelman contributed.

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