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House to debate power to take military action against Iran

Cole
Cole

The U.S. House is expected to engage in more debate Thursday about potential military actions against Iran, after a contentious hearing this week at which Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole accused Democrats of shutting out Republican voices.

Democrats have introduced legislation aimed at making President Donald Trump hew closely to the Vietnam-era War Powers Resolution and repealing the broad 2002 authority for military force in the Middle East.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Monday that the authority given by Congress to the president after the 9-11 attacks “needs to go,’’ adding that no president should be able to take military action based on an authority that was two decades old.

Republicans said the authority to take military action in the region shouldn’t be repealed until Congress can agree on something to take its place. Democrats countered that repealing the old authorization would put added pressure on lawmakers to develop a new one.

The White House has already threatened a veto of the House legislation, and it is unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will even consider it.

It will be the second time the House debates Congress’ role in authorizing military action since a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani early this month in Iraq. The week after the airstrike, the House approved a non-binding resolution aimed at limiting Trump’s authority to take military action against Iran. The Senate has not taken that up.

The debate on Thursday is likely to include complaints that Democrats won’t allow Republican amendments or a procedural motion traditionally used by the minority party to make a policy statement.

On Monday, the Rules Committee defeated an effort by Cole, R-Moore, that would have allowed any amendment to be offered. It also defeated Cole’s attempt to expand the instances in which the president could use force in the Middle East without getting specific authorization from Congress.

Republicans have also complained that Democrats inserted the legislation into an unrelated bill. McGovern said Republicans had used the same process several times when they controlled the House and had even “hijacked” Democratic bills to advance their own agenda.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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