‘How many more Americans did Soleimani need to kill before somebody supports taking him out?’
(Associated Press) Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a House vote for Thursday on limiting President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran as Democratic criticism of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general intensified.
Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the plan in a one-page statement that said last week’s drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani was “provocative and disproportionate.”
The Democratic measure seems certain to pass over solid Republican opposition. A similar proposal by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., faces long odds in GOP-run Senate.
Because of a procedural dispute between the two parties, it was unclear whether Thursday’s vote would be a step toward binding Trump’s hands on Iran or a symbolic gesture of opposition by Democrats.
Republicans say the proposal—a special type of resolution that does not get the president’s signature—does not have the force of law. Democrats say that under the 1973 War Powers Act, it would be binding if also approved by the Senate. The matter has not been definitively decided by federal courts.
The House vote on a war powers resolution was scheduled shortly after a briefing on Iran Wednesday by top administration officials that many Democrats criticized as lacking specific justification for the killing.
Iran retaliated early Wednesday local time by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. No casualties were reported.
“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,” Pelosi said in her statement.
“Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military” unless Congress declares war on that country or enacts legislation authorizing use of force to prevent an attack on the U.S. and its forces, the five-page resolution says.
The measure is being sponsored by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., a former CIA intelligence analyst who had served in Iraq.
Republicans have largely supported Trump’s actions, saying the president was well within his power to take out Iran’s architect of proxy operations against Americans in the Middle East. The U.S. considered Soleimani a terrorist.
“How much is enough? How many more Americans did Soleimani need to kill before somebody supports taking him out?” asked Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House. The world is a safer place without Soleimani in it, he added.
However, some Republicans also criticized the briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials.
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said it was “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue,” in the nine years he’s served in the Senate.
Lee called it “distressing” that officials suggested it would only embolden Iran if lawmakers debated the merits of further military action. He walked into the briefing undecided, Lee said, but left it favoring the war powers resolution being offered by Kaine.
“It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government … to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran,” Lee said. “It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong.”