Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 August 2020

US House passes measure to limit Trump's ability to wage war on Iran

Three members of Trump's Republican Party joined Democrats in approving the measure, which will now head to the Senate

The US House of Representatives is due to vote on a war powers resolution. Reuters
The US House of Representatives is due to vote on a war powers resolution. Reuters

The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday to rein in President Donald Trump's ability to engage in military conflict against Iran, days after he ordered a drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 224 to 194, almost exclusively along party lines, reflecting the deep divide in Congress. Democrats accused Trump of acting recklessly and backed the war powers resolution, while Trump's fellow Republicans, who rarely vote against the president, opposed it.

Passage in the House sends the measure to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Republicans hold 53 of the chamber's 100 seats and rarely vote against the president, but at least two Republican senators have expressed support for the war powers resolution.

If passed by the House and Senate, the measure does not need Trump's signature to go into effect. The White House issued a statement opposing it.

"This concurrent resolution is misguided, and its adoption by Congress could undermine the ability of the United States to protect American citizens whom Iran continues to seek to harm," the Statement of Administration Policy said.

The largely symbolic resolution was sure to trigger a scalding debate about presidential war powers at a time of heightened tensions with Tehran, a long-time US adversary.

Mr Trump on Wednesday signalled he was stepping back from the brink of war with Iran after the drone strike was followed by Iranian missile attacks on bases housing US forces in Iraq.

But Democrats, and two Senate Republicans, expressed deep skepticism about the administration's rationale for giving the order to kill general Qassem Suleimani, and demanded Congress reassert its power over a commander in chief's use of American military might against another nation.

Citing the War Powers Resolution of 1973 which forbids a president from taking the country to war without congressional approval, the measure "directs the president to terminate the use of United States armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military".

Mr Trump said Thursday ahead of the vote that he was counting on his Republican Party to present a united front against the measure.

"Hope that all House Republicans will vote against Crazy Nancy Pelosi's War Powers Resolution," the president tweeted.

Ms Pelosi, the speaker of the House, said her Democrats would move forward because their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials.

"The president has made clear that he does not have a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe, achieve de-escalation with Iran and ensure stability in the region," Ms Pelosi said.

Updated: January 10, 2020 03:38 AM

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