The House Wednesday passed a resolution to curb President Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran, setting up an expected veto from the commander in chief.
The measure — passing by a 227-186 vote — requires Trump to win approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. The Senate already passed the resolution with a bipartisan 55-45 vote last month.
Trump’s decision Jan. 3 to launch a drone strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, prompted the congressional response.
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“No one in this body mourns Qassem Soleimani. Certainly not me,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Wednesday on the House floor. “No one doubts that he was a hardened terrorist with the blood of Americans and others on his hands. But that’s not the issue before us today. The issue is that the Trump administration decided to kill him without authorization from Congress, without any prior consultation with Congress, and then misled the American people about why that was necessary.”
But Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, gave an impassioned speech about the terrors Soleimani inflicted and garnered applause from his colleagues for saying the world is a better place since Trump took out Soleimani.
“He orchestrated the attack on our embassy in Baghdad,” McCaul said, beside a poster-sized image of the charred embassy after the New Year’s attack. “Look at this picture. This was not simply a brushfire. … They stormed and attacked our embassy under Soleimani’s orders. What more evidence do we need than this?”
The measure had bipartisan support in the Senate when eight Republicans joined with the Senate Democrats on Feb. 13 on the resolution to terminate the use of military forces against Iran unless explicitly authorized by Congress. In the days after Soleimani’s death, the nation — and the world — braced for a potential war with Iran.
Tehran responded to the U.S. attack on Soleimani by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American and Coalition troops. The attack caused traumatic brain injuries in at least 64 U.S. soldiers, the Pentagon has said.
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Opponents of the measure said the bill is trying to tie the president’s hands unnecessarily. They pushed back on Democrats’ narrative that Trump had taken the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran by killing the general.
“The problem with my colleagues’ argument is that it flies in the face of what’s actually happened in the Middle East,” said Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., the first Green Beret elected to Congress. “What’s happened is deterrence has been restored. It’s relatively peaceful at this point.”
Waltz said the “bill seeks to restrain a president that has shown incredible restraint.”
Trump has previously threatened to veto the measure and Congress doesn’t have the two-thirds majority to override him.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., acknowledged the Trump veto is inevitable but said it’s still important Congress step up to reject war with Iran.
“It is gratifying to see that Congress is becoming serious about restoring our authority over matters of war and peace,” Omar said on the House floor. “Despite the inevitable veto, it is critically important that we are here today voting to insist on our constitutional power. Our founders understood that these decisions are too important to rest in the hands of one person.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.