Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference with President Donald Trump on February 28, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. U.S. (Photo: Tuan Mark/Getty Images)

Progressives Vow to Stop 'Unconstitutional' War as Trump Paves Way to Attack Iran Without Approval From Congress

"Once more for people in the back: Trump and Pompeo can't go to war without congressional approval," said Rep. Barbara Lee

Jake Johnson

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.

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.

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."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Ilhan Omar Demands Answers After First Somalia Airstrike of Biden Era

"It is critical that we realize we are not going to simply drone the al-Shabaab problem to death," the Somali-American congresswoman asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Huge Legal Win': Court Stops Police From Blockading Line 3 Protester Camp

One attorney described the blockade as "an outrageous abuse of law enforcement authority serving the interests of the Enbridge corporation against its environmental opponents."

Kenny Stancil ·

Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Renewables Would Add 8 Million Energy Sector Jobs Worldwide: Study

"Currently, an estimated 18 million people work in the energy industries—a number that is likely to increase, not decrease, to 26 million if we reach our global climate targets."

Brett Wilkins ·

Wyden Warns Millions of Poor Families Could Be 'Denied' Child Tax Credit Unless IRS Acts

Without urgent fixes to a shoddy online application portal, Wyden said, many of "America's most vulnerable communities" will not receive the expanded monthly benefit.

Jake Johnson ·

In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

"I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe... I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong."

Brett Wilkins ·