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White House Threatens to Veto Legislation Aimed at Curbing Trump’s Military Power in Iran

President Donald Trump holds a news conference, January 22, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto legislation proposed by Democrats that would limit President Trump’s military options and require him to seek congressional authorization before taking military action against Iran, saying the proposed constraints would “embolden our enemies.”

The measures would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which authorized the war in Iraq, and block funding for further military operations in Iran that are not approved by Congress. The House is set to vote on the proposals this week.

“The 2002 AUMF has long been understood to authorize the use of force for, among other purposes, addressing threats emanating from Iraq, including threats such as ISIS — a group whose objectives have included establishing an Islamic state in Iraq and using that state to support terrorism against the United States — as well as threats directed by Iran,” the White House said.

“This legislation would undermine the Administration’s reestablishment of deterrence with Iran, which could perversely make violent conflict with Iran more likely,” the administration added.

The administration incurred the ire of Democrats and some Republicans earlier this month when the U.S. military carried out the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, critics of the move saying it tempted war with Iran.

The drone strike that killed Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, came after several attacks by Iranian-backed forces in Iraq on U.S. troops, one of which killed an American contractor. The Pentagon claimed Soleimani was “actively developing” plans to attack Americans at the time of his death, although officials have declined to produce specific evidence to that point.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said earlier this month that the Senate has the votes to pass a measure to limit Trump’s military power in Iran after at least four Republicans said they would support it.

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