While all eyes were on the impeachment trial in the Senate on Thursday, the House passed a pair of bills intended to constrain President Trump’s ability to launch attacks on Iran. However, the White House has issued veto threats for these bills, even if they are taken up and approved by the Senate.
The first bill, introduced by Congressman Ro Khanna, was modeled after an amendment which was stripped from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during negotiations last year. The bill would prohibit Mr. Trump from using government funds to engage in conflict with Iran without the express permission of Congress.
The second bill, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq (AUMF), which the Trump administration used as part of its justification for the strike which killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani earlier this month. The legislation targeted Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have, but it also allowed for use of force as a part of the prosecution of the war on terrorism.
“We need to reassert our congressional authority,” Lee said in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday. She called the 2002 AUMF a “terrible, terrible authorization” which was “based on lies by the Bush administration.”
“The repeal of it is long overdue,” Lee continued.
The White House issued veto threats against the bills proposed by Khanna and Lee on Monday. In a statement of administration policy, the White House said Lee’s bill would undermine “the president’s ability to defend United States forces and interests in the region against ongoing threats from Iran and Iranian-sponsored proxies.” However, Mr. Trump appeared to send a conflicting message with a tweet on Wednesday, urging representatives to “vote their heart.”
“On the Iraq War Resolution being voted on tomorrow in the House of Represenatives [SIC], we are down to 5000 soldiers, and going down, and I want everyone, Republican and Democrat, to vote their HEART!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Lee said that even if the Senate chose not to vote on Khanna’s bill or hers, she would not be deterred.
“We don’t play by their rules,” Lee said, condemning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing House-approved to the Senate floor. “We can’t allow their collusion together on such matters of national security to drive what we do.”