US Democrats look to limit Trump’s Iran war powers as saber rattling grows

US Democrats look to limit Trump’s Iran war powers as saber rattling grows

Fuming over being kept in dark on Soleimani strike, Pelosi announces bill to stop US president from taking further action against Tehran without congressional support

Anti-war activist protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 4, 2020. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
Anti-war activist protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 4, 2020. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Sunday that Democrats would introduce a new resolution before the House of Representatives that she said would limit President Donald Trump from unilaterally leading the United States into a war against Iran.

Pelosi has been leading the backlash against Trump’s decision to authorize a drone deadly strike against powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, an operation that Trump only officially informed Congress about on Saturday — nearly 48 hours after the event.

Pelosi stated in a letter to Democrats that the resolution “reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.”

“As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution,” Pelosi wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds hands with Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, left, as they walk to the chamber where the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives begins a day of debate on the impeachments charges against US President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, December 18, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The initiative is to be led by Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA analyst with a specialization in Shia militias.

Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan gives a television interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump thumbed his nose Sunday at critics angered at being kept in the dark over the US killing of the Iranian general, saying in a tweet he didn’t need Congressional approval — even for a threatened “disproportionate” strike.

The defiant US president made light of the calls for him to get Congressional approval in any future military action, saying such notice was “not required” — and then saying his tweet would serve as prior notification if he did decide to strike against Iran again.

“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any US person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” Trump wrote.

“Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Iran at his Florida Mar-a-Lago property, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

While previous administrations have tried to garner bipartisan support for significant military operations by briefing opponents beforehand, neither Pelosi nor the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, were told in advance about the targeting of Soleimani.

A furious Pelosi said that what she called “this initiation of hostilities” was taken “without the consultation of the Congress and without the articulation of a clear and legitimate strategy to either the Congress or the public.”

“As Speaker of the House, I reiterate my call on the Administration for an immediate, comprehensive briefing of the full Congress on military engagement related to Iran and next steps under consideration,” she said in an earlier statement.

A pedestrian walks past banners showing portrait of Quds Force chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike early Friday in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Speaking on ABC television, Schumer said he was worried that the president would drag the US into “what he (Trump) calls another endless war in the Middle East”.

“I am really worried, and that is why Congress must assert itself. I don’t believe the president has authority to go to war” in Iran without congressional approval, he added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration had begun to brief Congressional leaders about the justification for the strike and promised to “keep them fully apprised.”

Asked whether the administration would seek authorization for any new military action, he told ABC television: “We have all the authority we need to do what we’ve done to-date. We will continue to do things appropriately, lawfully, and constitutionally.”

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