[pjw] NEWS: House votes to limit military action against Iran (CNN 1/9)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Jan 10 12:44:43 EST 2020

I am thinking most people have already heard this news, but I wanted to 
forward this article because it names the few Republicans and several 
Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for and against the resolution, 
respectively. Even though, as I said on KBOO yesterday, if you're against 
war you should be against war whoever the president is.

It's noted here that this was introduced as a Resolution, meaning it has 
no legal authority, but it also means the President can't veto it. Note 
that Trump's really only vetoed three pieces of legislation: Two trying to 
limit support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen and one challenging his 
declaration of a "national emergency" at the Mexico border.


I should also note that they did NOT yet vote to repeal the 2002 
Authorization for Use of Military Force allowing the US to wage war on 
Iraq, which was allegedly used as the basis to kill General Soleimani. 
Remember the point of that resolution was to dislodge the now long-dead 
Saddam Hussein from power, so one wonders how the White House's twisted 
logic even got there.


In addition to the good news that Iraq has asked the US to form a 
delegation for discussing withdrawal plans:


there have at least been discussions about the too-lenient AUMFs from 2001 
(post 9/11) and 2002 (Iraq, as noted above) and whether assassination by 
drone is an appropriate military strategy. Not too deep, but more 
discussion than we've seen in a long time if ever.

Drone or not, the powers that be (and mainstrem media) seem to asses a 
moral difference in having killed someone who is an official state actor 
as opposed to the hundreds of "terrorists" (and civilians) who have been 
killed in drone strikes since the first one in Yemen in 2002.

OK, here's the CNN article about the vote in the house.

See some of you tonight at the Square-- we have volunteers to stay with 
the tower!

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

House votes to limit Trump's military action against Iran without
congressional approval
    By Clare Foran and Haley Byrd, CNN
    Updated 6:54 PM ET, Thu January 9, 2020

    Washington (CNN)The House of Representatives on Thursday voted to
    approve a resolution aimed at restraining the President's ability to
    use military action against Iran without congressional approval,
    amid simmering tensions between the US and the country.

    The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas
    Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to
    vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams
    of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South
    Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey,
    Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted
    against the resolution.

    Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the

    Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA
    analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the
    resolution, which calls on the President "to terminate the use of
    United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran"
    unless Congress declares war or enacts "specific statutory
    authorization" for the use of armed forces.

    One additional exception outlined in the resolution is if the use of
    armed forces "is necessary and appropriate to defend against an
    imminent armed attack upon the United States."

    Read More A vote on the resolution took place one day after President
    Donald Trump signaled a deescalation of tensions with Iran, saying
    that "Iran appears to be standing down" in the wake of its retaliatory
    attacks against Iraqi bases housing US troops, which came after a US
    airstrike killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. Despite the
    apparent de-escalation, however, Democrats have continued to express
    alarm over the strike and the administration's justification in taking
    the action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday
    that "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" and announced that the House
    would move forward with a war powers resolution vote. The House
    resolution states that "when the United States military force, the
    American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a
    credible explanation regarding such use of military force." It also
    states that "Congress has not authorized the President to use military
    force against Iran."

How the House war powers resolution is structured

    The structure of the House resolution is unique, calling into question
    whether it is actually legally binding.

    It was introduced as a concurrent resolution, a type of resolution
    often used for "sense of Congress" bills. They don't go to the
    President for a signature, and they aren't legally binding.
    Past resolutions invoking the War Powers Act have been joint
    resolutions, such as the Yemen War Powers bill and the Senate version
    of the Iran War Powers resolution recently introduced by Democratic
    Sen. Tim Kaine.

    But Democratic leaders spent time Wednesday working out how to ensure
    the House version of the Iran War Powers resolution will also get a
    vote in the Senate, members told CNN. They landed on the concurrent
    resolution format.

    Unlike joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions are not able to be
    amended in a floor process known as a motion to recommit. Motions to
    recommit are the last opportunity for the House to debate and amend a
    given measure before final passage.

    Republicans, because they are in the minority, often use motions to
    recommit to hold votes on amendments that put Democratic members on the
    spot, or to try to change the purpose of Democratic legislation.
    Sometimes the amendments are unrelated to the substance of the bills
    themselves. These votes almost always fall on party lines, but
    sometimes the amendments are popular enough to pass, despite Democratic
    leadership's efforts to keep members in line.

    There's a recent example of this: Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna's Yemen War
    Powers resolution, passed in February last year, was a joint resolution
    and was amended in the House before final passage through a Republican
    motion to recommit to include an amendment condemning anti-Semitism. As
    a result, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the amendment was not
    relevant to the War Powers resolution, which stripped it of its
    privileged status in the Senate.

    Without privileged status, Republican leaders in the Senate are able to
    ignore the bill and are under no obligation to take it up for a vote.
    House Democrats wanted to avoid such an outcome this time.

    "Of all the things that we could do, I think this is potentially the
    strongest because it's privileged in both the House and the Senate. So
    the expectation is that we would have a vote in the Senate on this
    resolution," freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski told CNN Thursday morning.
    "It was specifically drafted to be privileged."

    But Republicans and Democrats have vastly different views on whether
    the House Iran war powers resolution is legally binding.

    House Democrats are arguing that concurrent resolutions under the War
    Powers Act are a special case, and they are legally binding.

    "This resolution follows the process established in the War Powers
    Resolution, which requires the President to stop using US forces in
    hostilities if 'Congress so directs by concurrent resolution,'" a
    Democratic aide told CNN Thursday.

    "Constitutionally, the President cannot take America into a war until
    he has a declaration of war or authorization from Congress. If both
    Houses of Congress concurrently tell the President he cannot continue
    hostilities, there should be no doubt that the President must come to
    Congress for legal authorization before taking us to war."

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the resolution at her weekly press
    conference Thursday, saying it has "real teeth."

    "This is a statement of the Congress of the United States and I will
    not have that statement be diminished by whether the President will
    veto it or not," Pelosi said.

    But the question has not been tested in the courts.

    A senior Democratic aide acknowledged "there are arguments for why this
    part of the War Powers resolution might not be binding" but told CNN
    the concurrent resolution "makes congressional intent crystal clear and
    the President should respect that."

    Needless to say, the President is not likely to respect it.
    Congressional Republicans have hit the resolution as "meaningless,"
    with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying it "cannot become

    "By definition, it will never be sent to the President, and it will
    never limit his constitutional authority to defend the American
    people," the California Republican said at his weekly news conference
    on Thursday.

    Democratic leadership's reasoning hasn't convinced everyone in the
    caucus; Rep. Max Rose, a freshman from a New York district Trump won in
    2016, said the President was justified in the strike on Soleimani and
    announced he will vote against the resolution.

    "Unfortunately, today's War Powers Resolution is a non-binding
    resolution that simply restates existing law and sends the message that
    war is imminent," he wrote in a statement. "I refuse to play politics
    with questions of war and peace and therefore will not support this

Democrats push resolutions in House and Senate

    A war powers resolution on Iran is also being pushed forward in the
    Senate, though it is not yet clear if it will have the votes to pass in
    the Republican-led chamber.

    In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced his own
    war powers resolution last week along with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin
    of Illinois. The measure is privileged, which means that the
    Republican-controlled Senate will have to hold a vote.

    The resolution directs the President to remove US forces from
    hostilities with Iran no later than 30 days after the resolution is
    enacted absent a declaration of war by Congress or passage of a new
    authorization for use of military force, a type of measure that
    lawmakers can approve to green-light military action.

    Even as the military conflict with Iran appeared to have de-escalated
    on Wednesday, Kaine said that he will continue to press ahead with his
    effort to limit Trump's authority on Iran.

    He added, however, that the timing may be complicated by the fact that
    it's uncertain when a Senate impeachment trial will begin. But since
    it's privileged, the Senate must vote on it.

    "What we learned from the last 18 months is ... this thing has been
    going up and down cycles ... and deliberation is the antidote to
    unnecessary escalation," Kaine said of conflict with Iran.

Democrats invoke War Powers Act in effort to rein in Trump

    In their effort to restrain US conflict with Iran, congressional
    Democrats are invoking the War Powers Resolution, otherwise known as
    the War Powers Resolution of 1973 or the War Powers Act.

    The War Powers Act stipulates parameters of presidential and
    congressional war powers, including imposing procedural requirements to
    ensure that presidents keep Congress apprised of military decisions as
    well as provisions that provide Congress with a mechanism to suspend
    military operations initiated by the President in certain

    It was enacted after Congress overrode a veto from then-President
    Richard Nixon and is aimed at reining in a president's authority to
    engage the US in military action without congressional approval.
    This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

    CNN's Holmes Lybrand, Manu Raju and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this

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