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Trump in War of Words with Congress over War Powers

Jan. 6, 2019 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump is now in a war of words over who has the war-making authority in the U.S. government. Yesterday, Trump “made light,” in the words of AFP, of Congressional demands that he notify Congress of any future intention to strike Iran, saying such notice was “not required”—and then saying his immediately preceding tweets describing the conditions under which he would order a strike on Iran 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 U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement dated Jan. 6 wrote that she called “this initiation of hostilities” was taken “without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran, 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. The Administration must work with the Congress to advance a bonafide de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence.”

Pelosi announced late yesterday that the House will vote on a War Powers Resolution that 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.” Pelosi’s letter follows an announcement by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), of a War Powers Resolution on Jan. 5 to direct the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities against Iran that were not approved by Congress.

Pelosi’s resolution is said to be similar to one introduced in the Senate on Jan. 2 by Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

“For years, I’ve been deeply concerned about President Trump stumbling into a war with Iran,” Kaine said. “Congress must step in before Trump puts even more of our troops in harm’s way. We owe it to our service members to have a debate and vote about whether or not it’s in our national interest to engage in another unnecessary war in the Middle East.”

War powers resolutions are privileged, making a vote required. This one calls for the President to remove troops from engaging in hostilities against Iran within 30 days “unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of military force.”

The Hill makes the observation that House Democrats can essentially force a vote in the Senate on a war-powers resolution, because it would be privileged, but they’re unlikely to get the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to overcome an expected presidential veto if the measure makes it to Trump’s desk.

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