The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a non-binding War Powers Resolution that would prohibit President Donald Trump from taking further military action against Iran without first gaining congressional approval.
The resolution—officially House Concurrent Resolution 83—was passed 224-194, largely along party lines with just three Republicans and one Independent joining with Democrats in favor of the measure. While eight Democrats voted against the resolution, four others did not vote. Read the full roll call here.
"Today, the House exercised our constitutional duty. We reminded the occupant of the White House that the power to declare war resides with Congress. Our message is loud and clear: #NoWarWithIran." —Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)"Today, the House exercised our constitutional duty," said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) following the vote. "We reminded the occupant of the White House that the power to declare war resides with Congress. Our message is loud and clear: #NoWarWithIran."
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), lead sponsor of the resolution, said it should serve to "make clear that if the president wants to take us to war, he must get authorization from Congress."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said that even as the resolution is non-binding—and must now pass the U.S. Senate—it still has "real teeth" because it serves as an official statement of the U.S. Congress.
Even as Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said earlier in the day the measure "has as much force of law as a New Year's resolution," Pelosi countered by saying the power vested in the resolution could not be "diminished by having the president veto it or not."
Ryan Costello, policy director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), applauded the passages of the resolution.
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Slotkin, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Eliot Engel and all Representatives who voted for the resolution today deserve tremendous credit for taking quick and decisive action to clarify Trump does not have authority to ratchet up to a full-blown war with Iran," said Costello.
"The Trump administration has lied about its assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani from the start, painting a picture of an imminent threat without evidence," he added. "Sadly, many—but not all—of Trump's Republican allies blindly accepted the administration's propaganda and engaged in a divisive campaign to distort the truth."
In a statement, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also celebrated the resolution's approval. "The People do not want an endless war with Iran," Pocan said, "they want diplomacy and de-escalation."
Noting that the resolution may not ultimately prevent Trump from taking further belligerent actions, Pocan said more must be done to curb the worst instincts of the president and those Republicans backing his hawkish and reckless foreign policy.
Now, Pocan added, members of Congress should move to pass both legislation by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq and a bill by Rep. Ro Khanna—and co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Senate—that would prohibit any funding for a military attack on Iran.
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"Congress has been silent for too long," Pocan said. "It's time we reclaim our Constitutional authority over military action from presidents intent on fight forever wars."
Lee echoed Pocan in her post-vote remarks.
"The American people do not want another unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East, and this critical resolution helps put a check on the Trump Administration's reckless and irrational military actions against Iran," Lee said.
"Today we begin to reassert our constitutional duty, but we must go further to restore our duty in matters of war and peace," she continued. "It's critical that Congress continues this important work and take up my bill, H.R. 2456, to repeal the 2002 AUMF and Congressman Khanna's bill to prohibit any funds for a war with Iran absent an explicit authorization. My 2002 AUMF amendment was included with bipartisan support in the House-passed FY2020 NDAA, but stripped by Senate Republicans from the final bill."
Ahead of the vote, Khanna explained why it was so vital for lawmakers to do exactly that:
Generations from now, the world is going to look back at our government and wonder why we were so obsessed with military interventions across the globe. pic.twitter.com/9pzCluHZCd
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) January 9, 2020
Passage in the House came as Americans took to the streets nationwide to participate in 'No War With Iran' demonstrations organized by progressive advocacy and anti-war groups who have demanded that Trump's warmongering be put to an immediate halt.
CODEPINK is answering the nationwide call to mobilize for #PeaceWithIran in cities all across the U.S. TODAY.
— CODEPINK (@codepink) January 9, 2020
Ahead of the marches this week, the advocacy group Indivisible, one of the coalition members, said it will be people in the streets and it will be voters in 2020 who remember where their lawmakers stood on the issue of war and peace.
"The anti-war majority of Americans will be paying close attention to what their members of Congress do," the group declared, "not what they say."