Amid reports that the Trump administration is paving the way for military action against Iran without congressional approval, progressive members of Congress are vowing to do everything in their power to prevent President Donald Trump from launching another disastrous war in the Middle East.
"Mr. President: Respect the Constitution. You have no legal authority to launch an attack on Iran."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
As Politico reported Tuesday, "senior Trump aides have made the case in public and private that the administration already has the legal authority to take military action against Iran" under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
"The Trump administration and its domestic political allies are laying the groundwork for a possible confrontation with Iran without the explicit consent of Congress," according to Politico, "a public relations campaign that was already well underway before top officials accused the Islamic Republic of attacking a pair of oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman."
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invoked the 2001 AUMF as a possible legal justification for war with Iran in a closed-door briefing last month.
"We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 AUMF might authorize war on Iran," Slotkin said. "Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words."
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 AUMF, was part of a chorus of progressive lawmakers that raised alarm about the Trump administration's efforts to bypass Congress to attack Iran.
"Trump and Pompeo can't go to war without congressional approval," Lee tweeted on Tuesday.
Once more for people in the back:
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 18, 2019
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, echoed Lee, tweeting that the Trump administration has "no legal authority to launch an attack on Iran."
"Come to Congress, present your evidence, and make your case," tweeted Sanders, who said in an interview Tuesday that he does not accept the Trump administration's claim that Iran was behind the tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
If Trump attempts to bypass Congress to attack Iran, Sanders said, members of Congress will invoke the War Powers Act to stop him.
Mr. President: Respect the Constitution. You have no legal authority to launch an attack on Iran. Come to Congress, present your evidence, and make your case. If not, we will assert our power under the War Powers Act to stop you. https://t.co/PZ1XfQkX68
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 18, 2019
Concerns that the Trump administration is preparing for a possible attack on Iran without congressional authorization comes as the Pentagon is preparing to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, a move critics said could heighten the threat of full-blown military conflict with Iran.
According to the Jerusalem Post, United Nations officials believe the Trump administration is also planning a "massive" bombing campaign against Iran.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), lead sponsor of the Prevention of Unconstitutional War With Iran Act of 2019, tweeted Tuesday that the "Trump administration is brazenly signaling that it wants to go around Congress on Iran."
"That is unconstitutional," Udall said. "My bill to prevent an unauthorized war with Iran is needed more than ever."