House Votes To Stop Trump From Attacking Iran Without Congressional Authorization

An amendment to this year's military spending bill says the president must go to Congress before launching another war.


The House of Representatives has passed a bill requiring President Donald Trump to get congressional approval before attacking Iran.

Earlier this afternoon, the Democrat-controlled House voted 220–197 in favor of a $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will fund the Pentagon and its various foreign wars through the end of the next fiscal year.

Included in the bill was a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.). It clarifies that Congress has passed no legislation that would allow the president to strike Iran. Their amendment says that "no Federal funds may be used for any use of military force in or against Iran" unless Congress declares war on the country or passes some other statutory authorization for an attack.

Stopping a war with Iran proved more popular than the spending bill as a whole. It earned the support of 20 House Republicans and passed with a commanding 251–170 vote.

"This is the only way to stop Trump from starting another costly war. Constitutional rights aren't optional and endless war isn't inevitable," Khanna tweeted after his amendment passed. "This is how we democratize our foreign policy and put an end to unconstitutional wars."

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been rising throughout the summer, with the U.S. hitting Tehran with increased sanctions and sending more troops and ships to the Persian Gulf. Iran has reportedly responded by sabotaging oil tankers and shooting down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.

Trump ordered air strikes on Iran in response to the loss of the drone but called the attacks off at the last minute.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been pitching lawmakers on the idea that the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF)—passed in the wake of 9/11 to permit the U.S. to attack Al Qaeda—allows the U.S. to attack Iran without further congressional approval.

Khanna and Gaetz's amendment makes it clear this is not the case, stating explicitly that the 2001 AUMF does not authorize any sort of hostilities against Iran.

Having passed, the House's NDAA now goes to the Senate, which has already passed its own, larger $750 billion military spending bill.

That bill does not include any additional limitations on Trump's ability to attack Iran, nor does it seem likely that Senate Republicans will agree to fold that into the final version of the legislation.

It's a sad statement that we'd need an amendment clarifying that the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, sole power to declare war. The fact that this basic concept might be too controversial to pass is sadder still.


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  1. Fabulous, now get us out of Afghanistan.

    1. And give up the opium to the Chinese? Last time that happened, it didn’t turn out very well…

  2. >>>”This is the only way to stop Trump from starting another costly war …” Khanna tweeted

    how many costly wars has T started, asshole?

    1. Libya ? Oh, wait.

      1. Libya was a smashing Obama / Clinton success story.

      2. been in Libya since T was in the USFL biz.

        1. Maybe, but I don’t think they had slave markets under Qaddafi

          1. who knows? pretty sure O killed Qaddafi though, not T

            1. Yea, was just noting a difference between “T in USFL biz” era Libya and “post O humanitarian bombing/regime-change” era Libya

    2. Yemen ? Oh, wait.

      1. war started in Yemen … war.

    3. That could be interpreted in two ways: another war in addition to the wars the US is currently involved in, or another war in addition to the ones Trump has started.
      Though, seeing the party and state of the person who said that, I suspect that the latter is what was intended (and agree that it’s wrong).

      1. yeah i went w/the 2d. and i’ve never seen you swear before (below) it’s a whole new Zeb

        1. Really? I’m hardly a non-swearer, but I guess I swear a lot less writing than speaking.

          1. in type you seem entirely more level-headed than most.

            1. It’s his schtick

      2. Which wars has Trump started?

        1. exactly.

    4. Afghanistan? Oh wait.

    5. Iraq? Oh wait.

    6. Yemen? Oh wait.

    7. Niger? Oh wait.

    8. Where’s HIS nobel prize?

    9. It isn’t about whether the current president has started other costly wars (yet) – I think you’re misinterpreting the statement.

      It’s about a series of presidents, on both sides of the aisle, who have started recent, costly wars, and a seriously disturbing trend of taking “war powers” away from Congress. We have seen several recent presidents taking more and more power, and spineless Congress all too happy to secede those powers for their own political cover and convenience. I think we can all agree, regardless of political affiliation, that one of the most critical checks and balances we have is that we do not have a “king” who can declare war on their own whenever they feel like it, and for whatever reason, but that’s exactly where we have been heading.

      I strongly applaud Congress (something I rarely do…) for re-asserting that this is a Congressional power and decision, and not entirely up to the whims of a president.

      1. “It isn’t about whether the current president has started other costly wars (yet)…
        …I strongly applaud Congress (something I rarely do…) for re-asserting that this is a Congressional power and decision, and not entirely up to the whims of a president.”


    10. It must be true because none of the fact check organizations even questioned it. It isn’t like he got even a single Pinocchio so it must be way up Kolbert’s truthiness scale.

  3. What a novel idea. Maybe it will catch on.

    Fuck you, I’ll post comments as fast as I want!

    1. Been conversing with the squirrels again?
      I got a few of those; but there was a lot of time between posts, I drink coffee.

  4. “the president must go to Congress before launching another war.”

    That’s a great idea. They should put that into the Constitution, or something.

    1. *this* 435 knows better. bc bipartisanship.

    2. “That’s a great idea. They should put that into the Constitution, or something.”

      Taft tried to point that out to Truman. Taft lost that discussion.

      1. I think you mean Wilson

  5. Not all military action is war.

    If we are on patrol and a British merchant ship starts getting harassed by Iran’s military, does Trump need to go to congress before allowing US ships in the area to attack the aggressors?

    1. If its a British flagged ship why would we be involved. England has a navy?

      1. Well, it turns out that a lot of countries have these things called treaties. They are considered binding, and a lot of them involve behavior when shots are fired. See “the war to end all war” for how fast it goes downhill.

        1. Right. So the question is why do we need to be in the Straits of Hormuz? Why do we need to be on patrol for British ships? If the plan is that we are defending free navigation in the Straits of Hormuz, then President Trump should go to Congress and get authority to take that action. Not fill the area with US ships so we are there when problem arise and he can claim it require immediate action. Treaties require us to help, they don’t require us to look for trouble.

      2. 1950s Uhh, because WE’RE the world cop.
        1960/70/80s We’re not the world’s cop, maaan.
        1990s It’s important for us to take a leadership role in world affairs, including militarily.
        2000s’ End this war!
        2010s It’s complicated
        2016 – It’s really complicated.

    2. Not all military action is war.
      kinetic military action?

      1. Isn’t war necessarily overt? So they just don’t tell anyone, problem solved, no? How many of these things to we find out only after things start going sideways?

    3. Yes. As its a British flagged ship. Not a US one.

      Just like we didn’t get involved with . . . whatever the hell went on with the Japanese freighter that might have been mined.

      1. Maybe because if it was one of our ships being attacked we would expect them to help us out? This has pretty much always been the practice, even when the US and British weren’t exactly best pals.

      2. And, ignoring blatant provocation and hostile acts in international waters because it happens so somebody else hardly seems a good way to maintain peace. I mean Chamberlain’s plan to ignore increasingly hostility worked so well didn’t it?

  6. So it took Trump to get Congress to assert its congressional authority.

    1. Maybe it’s the MSM trying to get the “unity” narrative back on track. Besides, they probably had the stories all ready to go with the next war being against North Korea and Trump flipping the script cost them serious cash.

  7. Great. Better 16 years, billions of dollars, and who knows how many lives, late than never.

  8. Well this is a good thing, so we can all expect Mitch McConnell to strangle it in its bed like he does with puppies.

  9. I do not think Iran is going to risk full scale war. They will do what they always do, small scale provocations and acting through proxies. Most of these will be deniable on their part.

    The only card they hold is continuing to enrich uranium up to weapons grade. At that point the ball is in our court. You don’t need to declare war to order a one off strike. If Iran retaliates you have one so declarations are meaningless.

    1. As usual, congress has put in an escape clause so any US troop deaths or wounds can be blamed on Trump. That amendment is in an endless loop with the alleged war powers act on what is a war, what is a commander in chief, and what is a congress.
      But long story short, the President can declare an emergency and respond to attacks.
      Find some old guy who was in the ‘nam and ask him how happy the troops were to sit under fire and wait for someone to find McNamara and ask if the bombs could be dropped or not.
      I can hardly wait for congress to get back from a recess, draft up a declaration of war, and debate it until after all the bombs and missiles of the enemy have fallen, then declare the situation moot and approve a gazillion dollars for clean up and decontamination.

      1. Operation earnest will 87-88.

        The Iran-Iraq war. Reagan was President.

        To protect Kuwaiti tankers and keep the oil flowing the US reflagged the tankers and launched an escort operation.

        Just an example of how messy it can get.

        I really think this whole thing did not need to happen.

  10. From what the dems are saying I expect Pelosi to convene congress and declare war on the United States of America.

  11. Was Trump planning on starting a war, or is this just more cheap demagoguery and lying?

  12. So, the guy least likely to go to war out of the last 30 years is the one they finally got the balls to stand up and tell ‘don’t go to war’?

  13. While they’re at it they should ban him from firing Mueller.

  14. “House Votes To Stop Trump From Attacking Iran Without Congressional Authorization”
    They’re talking about Twitter.

  15. I think it is more about appearances. It is really intended to undermine his negotiating power with Iran.

    Congress has no issue with war. They have an issue with Trump.

    1. “Make America Great Again”

      “How dare he tell the proles that they have agency!”

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