Pelosi Moves to Limit Trump's Authority for Iran Action with 'War Powers Resolution'
Calls for vote to limit president's actions, implying pre-emptive surrender to Iran
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on her fellow Democrats to vote on a "War Powers Resolution" that seeks to limit President Donald Trump's authority to take military action against Iran.
On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to her Democrat colleagues in the House, revealing details of the resolution that amounts to a pre-emptive surrender to Iran in ongoing hostilities.
The move follows last week's US airstrike targeting Iranian terrorist General Qasem Suleimani that was authorized by President Trump.
As the leader of terrorist group Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Quds Force, Suleimani was responsible for hundreds of Americans' deaths along with the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Claims by the Democrats about the strike being illegal or a "war crime" have been widely disputed, however.
In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Harvard Law School professor emeritus (and Democrat) Alan Dershowitz argues that the strike was not only lawful but an “easy call.”
"The president has the constitutional authority to take military actions, short of declaring war, that he and his advisers deem necessary to protect American citizens," Dershowitz explains.
"This authority is extremely broad, especially when the actions must, by their nature, be kept secret from the intended target.”
Pelosi and other Democrats have been critical of Trump’s decision to conduct an airstrike in Iraq that killed Gen. Soleimani, claiming he did not properly notify Congress in advance and warning about the risk of escalation in the region.
Trump has also threatened additional action if Iran retaliates against the United States or American people for Soleimani’s death.
“This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” Pelosi wrote in her letter, essentially signaling a surrender in the potential conflict before the Iranian regime itself had managed to respond.
Referring to a similar Senate resolution to be introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Pelosi adds 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.”
Under current law, the War Powers Act of 1973 limits the time that a president can lead a military effort, without formal authorization, to 60 days following a required presidential report to Congress when hostilities begin.
The new resolution would amount to an effective surrender by signaling that the president had no congressional support for striking back against Iran and imposing a new deadline for any military action that would give Iran greater freedom of action.
Paradoxically, the resolution could force the president to choose more drastic measures of conducting a war effort before the deadline.
On Saturday, the White House sent Congress formal notification of the drone strike under the War Powers Act, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The notification, required by law within 48 hours of the introduction of American forces into armed conflict or a situation that could lead to war, had to be signed and sent to Congress.
The document sent Saturday to congressional leadership, the House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore was entirely classified, according to a senior aide for the Democrats and a congressional aide speaking to the AP.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) also sent a letter to the president Sunday asking him to fully declassify the notification, claiming that “there appears to be no legitimate justification” for keeping it secret.
Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that “legal notice is not required” for him to take additional action, but claimed that his online posts provided notification to Congress that he “will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner” if Iran attacks “any U.S. person or target.”
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
Iran has vowed to retaliate and avenge the death of Soleimani.
Iranian officials also announced they would be abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal, signaling threats of further nuclear proliferation.
Trump had tweeted Saturday that even Iran’s cultural sites were potential targets for U.S. military action.
"They're allowed to kill our people. They're allowed to torture and maim our people," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday.
"They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way."
Earlier that day, Iraqi lawmakers approved a resolution calling to expel U.S. troops from the country, who were sent there more than four years ago to aid in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.