Congress Votes to End Unconstitutional War Powers

July 16th, 2019 - by Win Without War & Rebecca Rheel / The Hill

Congress Votes to End Unconstitutional War Powers

Win Without War

(July 14, 2019) — BREAKING: the House just voted to prevent Trump’s War Cabinet from taking us to war with Iran without congressional authorization as part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). [1]

This is A BIG DEAL! For the last 58 years the NDAA has never failed to become law — so that means that we’re now closer than ever to stopping a Trump/Bolton war with Iran.

But there’s one last hurdle ahead of us: a back room negotiation between House and Senate leaders that is notoriously opaque — and where last minute advocacy phone calls, hallway conversations, and late-night texts with Hill staff are CRITICALLY important to deciding which amendments survive into the final vote.

Our team has been pulling late nights for weeks, but we’re doubling-down with everything we’ve got because we can NOT give up now when the finish line for preventing a disastrous war with Iran is in sight. 

Rep. Ro Khanna and Rep. Matt Gaetz’s amendment to the NDAA states the OBVIOUS: that Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to make War, and declares clearly that the 18-year-old Authorizations for Use of Military Force passed in the wake of September 11 and for the invasion of Iraq CANNOT be used to justify war with Iran. 

The annual defense policy bill isn’t known to be the most progressive piece of legislation. That’s why the momentum we’ve got right now is so important: the Khanna/Gaetz amendment got nearly 90 co-sponsors and survived weeks of debate and winnowing of 675 proposed amendments.

That isn’t an accident. Thousands of us have written and called our Members of Congress. We’ve delivered petitions directly to their doors. And day in and day out the Win Without War staff team has briefed Members of Congress and their staff and supported them with detailed policy analysis and opinions to get to this point. We are SO CLOSECan you help us get this critical amendment to block war with Iran across the finish line?

Thank you for working for peace,

Erica, Amy, Stephen, and the Win Without War team

 [1] The HillHouse approves amendment seeking to block Trump from taking military action against Iran

House Approves Amendment Seeking to Block Trump from Taking Military Action against Iran

Rebecca Rheel / The Hill

 (July 12, 2019) — The House on Friday voted 251-170 to approve an amendment intended to block President Trump from taking military action against Iran.

The amendment would prohibit funding US military action against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted another specific statutory authorization.

Some Republicans broke rank to support it, including vocal Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who co-sponsored the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Twenty-seven Republicans sided with Democrats to support the amendment, while seven Democrats voted against it.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the amendment’s chief sponsor, touted the measure as sending a strong signal to Trump.
“It reminds the president that the American people, both Democrats and Republicans, don’t want another war in the Middle East,” Khanna told reporters: “The president was fully aware of this. This is what he said when he campaigned, and he’s probably going to want to say it again when he campaigns again. So I think it’s a reminder to him of where public sentiment is and that he shouldn’t get too influenced by the Washington establishment.”

The amendment was a key demand of progressives as Democratic leaders seek their votes to pass the NDAA without Republican support.

Progressives think the NDAA’s $733 billion price tag is too high. But they have indicated they will support the bill anyway if key amendments pass, particularly ones related to Trump’s war powers.

The Iran amendment specifically was seen as urgent amid spiking tensions with Tehran. Trump said last month he was minutes away from launching a military strike on Iran after it shot down a US drone.

“If my war-hungry colleagues — some of whom have already suggested that we invade Venezuela, North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunch time tomorrow — if they’re so certain in their case against Iran, let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor,” Gaetz said on the House floor.

Most Republicans, though, argued the amendment would tie Trump and the military’s hands in protecting against threats from Iran.

“You don’t handcuff the president, the commander in chief, you don’t handcuff him in advance of any preparation from dealing with a hostile, state sponsor of terror, and this is just wrong,” House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said.

The amendment’s inclusion in the House version of the bill sets up a clash with the Senate. The upper chamber voted on a similar amendment when it considered its version of the NDAA, but could not muster the 60 votes needed for it to pass.

The two chambers will need to reconcile their versions of the bill before sending it to Trump’s desk.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.