Defense Authorization Amendment against a War on Iran at Issue in Congress
June 25, 2019 (EIRNS)—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dismissed a request today from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to delay consideration of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) while Democratic members of the Senate who are presidential candidates are out participating in debates. At issue is an amendment to the bill, sponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) which would prohibit military action against Iran without authorization by Congress. McConnell is opposed to the bill, but hasn’t yet indicated whether he would allow a vote on it. This seems unlikely as The Hill had already reported yesterday afternoon that McConnell intended to move to limit debate on the bill and thus block most of the 600 amendments that have been proposed. Democrats would need 41 votes to block McConnell’s motion and the press coverage doesn’t indicate that they have 41 votes, even though they control 47 seats in the Senate.
On the House side, Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have unveiled an amendment to the House version of the defense authorization bill that would prohibit funding for U.S. military action against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted another specific statutory authorization. Gaetz, who is characterized as a frequent backer of President Donald Trump, said that “Congress must resolve” to make sure any conflict with Iran is initiated within the constraints of the Constitution.
Trump told The Hill in an interview that he doesn’t need Congressional approval to hit Iran. He said “I do” when The Hill asked him if he believes he has the authority to initiate military action against Iran without first going to Congress. “But we’ve been keeping Congress abreast of what we’re doing ... and I think it’s something they appreciate,” he said. “I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally.”