Pelosi says House will vote Thursday to limit Trump's power to take military action against Iran

Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote on a resolution to limit President Donald Trump's ability to take military action against Iran. 
  • The president said earlier in the day that he would hit Iran with more "punishing" sanctions following Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces. 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday, December 19, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call | Getty Images

The House will vote Thursday on a resolution to curb President Donald Trump's power to take military action against Iran, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The announcement Wednesday came only a day after Tehran launched missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces. Earlier in the day, the president said that Iran "appears to be standing down," adding that he would ratchet up "punishing" sanctions rather than take military action to retaliate.

In a statement, the speaker said the Trump administration's killing of Iran's top general, Qasem Soleimani, "endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran." Pelosi added that some members of Congress have "serious, urgent concerns" about the president's strategy, which the administration did not assuage with a Wednesday briefing or its "insufficient" notification of the strike to Congress under the War Powers Act.

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"The Administration must work with the Congress to advance an immediate, effective de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence. America and the world cannot afford war," Pelosi said in announcing the vote on the war powers resolution, led by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.

In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump said he hopes "all House Republicans will vote against" the war powers resolution.

Donald Trump tweet

The House could also consider two separate measures to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force for the Iraq War and to bar funding for military action against Iran not approved by Congress, Pelosi said. Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., respectively, introduced those bills.

The resolution the House plans to vote on Thursday resembles one introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. It says that, without further congressional approval, the president would have to stop military action against Iran within 30 days.

The measure could have a tough time passing the Republican-held Senate. The GOP has broadly supported the Trump administration's decision to kill Soleimani and warned limiting Trump's powers could hamstring the U.S. military response at a critical time.

The resolution reflects an ongoing push by Democratic lawmakers to reassert Congress' power to declare war. Pelosi said Wednesday that the White House carried out the strike to kill Soleimani without consulting Congress.

Congressional Democrats have also expressed skepticism about the Trump administration's assertion that Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on Americans, even after the Wednesday briefing.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said, "We are not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one."

After the administration briefed the Senate on Iran on Wednesday, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., said they would consider backing a war powers resolution. Lee called it "probably the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate."

He criticized the administration for cutting off the briefing after 75 minutes and for apparently giving vague answers about the justification for military force against Iran.

"They had to leave after 75 minutes while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane, I think it's unacceptable," Lee said.

Both Lee and Paul have bucked their party on issues of executive power to take military action.

The Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

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