By Rebecca Kheel
A bipartisan pair of congressmen, including a vocal ally of President Trump, on Tuesday unveiled a measure to prevent the president from conducting a military strike against Iran without congressional approval.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment, offered by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), would prohibit funding for U.S. military action against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted another specific statutory authorization.
“Last week, we watched President Trump come within minutes of striking Iran and involving the United States in yet another trillion-dollar war in the Middle East,” Khanna said in a statement. “President Trump campaigned on ending costly wars overseas but given the advisors he chose and his recent risky actions, he is not living up to that promise.”
Gaetz, who frequently backs the president, added that “Congress must resolve” to make sure any conflict with Iran is initiated within the constraints of the Constitution.
“This amendment affirms what President Trump knows and believes: unfocused, unconstitutional, unending wars in the Middle East make America weaker, not stronger,” Gaetz said in his own statement. “Iran must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon and threatening international peace, but Congress must resolve to ensure that any military action is carried out constitutionally.”
In an interview with Hill.TV on Monday, Trump said he does not think he needs congressional authorization to launch a military strike on Iran.
When asked if he believes he has the authority to initiate military action against Iran without first going to Congress, Trump said, “I do.”
“But we’ve been keeping Congress abreast of what we’re doing … and I think it’s something they appreciate,” he said in an exclusive interview outside the Oval Office. “I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally.”
Trump’s comments Monday came after he called off a planned military strike against Iran last week in response to it shooting down a U.S. drone. Trump said he decided against it because the estimated death toll was not a proportional response, leaving open the possibility of a strike he would consider proportional.
On Tuesday, he said an Iranian attack on “anything” American would prompt “great and overwhelming force.”