Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) The US House of Representatives approved a non-binding resolution to remind President Donald Trump of the key role of Congress in approving any military attack abroad, the move being an attempt to circumscribe the power of the White House to unilaterally undertake “military action” against Iran.
In a 224-194 vote, the Democratic majority in the House approved a motion designed to demonstrate lawmakers’ unease with the fact that the Trump administration did not notify them prior to the operation on Jan. 3 to stage a deadly drone strike on Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani when he was visiting Baghdad, Efe news reported on Thursday.
Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans voted to support it, so it was not a vote that went strictly according to party lines.
To avoid an expected Trump veto, Democratic legislators used a legal formula known as a “concurrent resolution” that will be considered approved once both chambers of Congress ratify it but does not require the signature of the president, and thus cannot become law.
“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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said in a statement prior to the vote on the resolution.
“Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing” on the matter on Wednesday, she added.
“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.
The resolution is based on the 1973 War Powers Act and demands that the president provide a report to Congress within 48 hours of any offensive military action not based on a formal declaration of war.
After sending the report, the chief executive must end any military action within the next 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension, if Congress does not formally declare war or approve a specific authorization for that foreign military action.
The text of the resolution is based exclusively on a possible conflict with Iran, despite the fact that both Washington and Tehran on Wednesday expressed their willingness – at least for now – to back away from a military confrontation.
The resolution specifically states that Congress has not authorized the president to use military force against Iran.
Although Trump did not inform Congress before the hit on Soleimani, he did notify lawmakers before the 48-hour limit demanded by law, but he did so in a confidential document.
Democrats are planning to push forward with a similar resolution next week in the Senate, but the Republican majority there complicates approval of that text, which would urge Trump to end within 30 days any military action against Iran that was not authorised by Congress.