House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning a vote on Thursday to force President Donald Trump to withdraw plans to attack Iran unless he receives explicit authorization from Congress.
This show of force on the part of the speaker follows the president’s statement on Wednesday that he plans to avoid further confrontations with Iran, especially since the Iranian 12-missile attack on Americana bases in Iraq did not result in any casualties.
What Pelosi and House Democrats are aiming for is to take away one of the president’s most crucial executive powers: to identify a security threat in real-time and decide whether or not to take action against it. The Democrats are still unsure about the justification for last week’s assassination by drone of terror mastermind Qasem Soleimani, and don’t want Trump to take similar steps in the future.
According to the NY Times, citing House Democrats, Thursday’s vote would require Trump to cease all military action against Iran, unless he can get Congress to vote to approve it. It is inconceivable that the Senate, including a number of Democrats, would support such a bill, but at least two Republicans – Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky – are prepared to embrace it.
Pelosi issued a statement saying “members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing today.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) countered: “As a superpower, we have the capacity to exercise restraint and to respond at a time and place of our choosing, if need be. I believe the president wants to avoid conflict or needless loss of life. But he’s rightly prepared to protect American lives and interests.”
It appears that both House members and Senators were offended by the patronizing tone and style of the briefing they received from the White House.
Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va) told the Times the briefing was “sophomoric and utterly unconvincing.”
“I believe more than ever the Congress needs to act to protect the constitutional provisions about war and peace,” Connolly told reporters, adding, “I believe there was no rationale that could pass a graduate school thesis test.”
Would lawmakers neuter the presidency over an insult? Pettier things have happened.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md) left the briefings to Congress behind closed doors on Wednesday complaining the presentation had been deficient. “The administration has not offered a remotely sufficient justification for the legal basis of this action,” he said.