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National Security & Defense

House Approves Two Measures to Curtail Trump’s War-Making Powers

Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in a military exercise to secure a helicopter landing zone at the Tolemaida military base, Colombia, January 26, 2020. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

The House on Thursday passed one resolution to end the Authorization of the Use of Military Force enacted in 2002 and another to require that the administration seek congressional approval before taking any future military action against Iran.

“Members of Congress continue to have serious, urgent concerns about the president’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told reporters before the vote. Pelosi continued that Congress’s power to declare war “has been, shall we say, usurped by administrations both Democratic and Republican, and now to an extent that practically abrogates whatever is in the Constitution.”

The AUMF, which was enacted in 2002 to authorize the Iraq War, was rejected by the House in a vote of 236 to 166, largely along party lines. The House moved to act in the wake of President Trump’s order to kill top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

The House also approved a separate resolution, sponsored by Representative Ro Khanna (D., Calif.), that would condition funds used for any future attack on Iran on congressional approval.

“The last thing we can do is give the Pentagon another blank check,” Khanna said on Wednesday.

Trump has not been clear on whether he will veto the legislation. While the White House did threaten a veto earlier this week, Trump told legislators in a Twitter post to “vote with your heart” on AUMF. On the same night, Trump then said the Democrats’ legislation would make the fight against Iran more difficult.

The Democrats’ resolution on AUMF has already gained the public support of four Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Todd Young of Indiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah — securing a legislative majority.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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