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Fight Over War Powers Looms in Congress

Pelosi says vote will be held Thursday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2020 6:43 AM CST

(Newser) – Iran and the US appear to have stepped back from the brink of war—but congressional Democrats still want to make sure President Trump's ability to take action against the country is reined in. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that the chamber will vote Thursday on a war powers resolution, the New York Times reports. "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," she said in a statement, adding that their concerns were not addressed by a briefing from administration officials Wednesday. Pelosi said the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was "provocative and disproportionate." More:

  • Tussle over war powers lies ahead. The measure, which calls for Trump to end any military action against Iran that is not approved by Congress, is expected to set up a clash between Democrats and Republicans over war powers. Democrats argue that the measure will be binding under the 1973 War Powers Act if it is passed by both houses of Congress.

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  • No imminent threat? Democratic lawmakers said the briefing from officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel did not convince them that Soleimani posed an imminent threat, the Hill reports. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly says the intelligence presented was "sophomoric and utterly unconvincing." "I believe there was no rationale that could pass a graduate school thesis test," he says. "I was utterly unpersuaded about any evidence about the imminence of a threat that was new or compelling."
  • "We are owed concrete details." "I think it's extremely important that we as a country, if we are going to—either intentionally or accidentally—slide into war, that we have a debate about it," says the bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, per the AP. "How do you know you're succeeding and not just escalating us into something more and more dangerous? We are owed concrete, specific details on strategy," says Slotkin, a former CIA analyst who served in Iraq.
  • Republican defectors. GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul have said they will back a Senate version of the House bill, meaning it would have at least 49 of the required 51 votes, the New York Times reports. Lee says he finds the administration's attitude insulting. "Their message was so run along and be good little boys and girls and not debate" the justification for the Soleimani strike, he says. "It's un-American, it's unconstitutional, and it's wrong."
  • Pelosi's next steps. The House speaker said Wednesday that lawmakers are considering additional legislation, including a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which allowed military action against Iraq and has been cited by the Trump administration as justification for the killing of Soleimani.
(Read more Iran stories.)

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