Horn votes to limit Trump's war authority against Iran
Rep. Kendra Horn voted Thursday to limit President Donald Trump’s authority to attack Iran, as the Democratic House cleared legislation to reassert Congress’ power to declare war.
Horn, D-Oklahoma City, said the resolutions, approved along mostly partisan lines, were “about Congress doing its job and setting clear strategic boundaries for the use of our Armed Forces globally.”
The other four Oklahomans in the House, all Republicans, voted against the resolutions, one specifically focused on Iran and another with more broad application to the use of force in the Middle East.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said, “This attempt to prevent the president from exercising his constitutional responsibility to defend the United States is indeed ill-timed and ultimately sends the wrong message to the Iranian regime about American resolve.”
Neither of the resolutions is expected to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate. The White House issued a veto threat earlier this week.
Both resolutions stem from the U.S. airstrike early this month that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. Democrats argued that Trump, in authorizing the airstrike, could have started a war with Iran without notification or approval from Congress.
The House approved a non-binding resolution about a week after the strike requiring Trump to get congressional approval before taking military action against Iran, unless U.S. forces were under imminent threat. All five Oklahoma members voted against that resolution; Horn was one of only eight Democrats to vote against it. The Senate has not brought it up and is not expected to do so.
On Thursday, Horn voted for a resolution to bar Trump from using funds to attack Iran unless Congress declares war or enacts specific authorization for the use of such military force. The president could take action absent congressional approval if there was “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
Horn also voted for the resolution that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force that was passed by Congress before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Horn said, “Tensions with Iran remain a concern and my priority is protecting the long-term security of Americans. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work to bring both parties together to update the existing AUMFs (Authorization for Use of Military Force) to respond to today’s national security threats and to protect our nation against another reckless war.”
A spokesman for Horn said Friday that the congresswoman's position had been consistent, despite her vote in early January against the resolution seeking to limit Trump's authority to strike Iran. The spokesman noted that Horn voted last summer for an amendment that contained language identical to the resolution approved on Thursday. Horn has criticized the January resolution as being political since it was non-binding and did not address the broader questions of congressional authority.
Cole also voted for the amendment last summer, which included language limiting the president's authority to take military action against Iran; Cole has been an advocate for Congress to reclaim its authority to declare war. But Cole voted Thursday against repealing the 2002 authorization that has been used to justify U.S. military actions that some say were outside the four corners of that legislation.
Cole said, “I have long been supportive of having a debate about how Congress can reclaim its constitutional power to authorize and declare war. … Unfortunately, the misguided measures pushed through the House by Democrats are clearly more about striking at the president than protecting American interests.”
The situation with Iran has changed since his vote last summer on the amendment, which drew other Republican votes, he said.
"We shouldn't be doing anything right now that sends the message to the Iranians that we're divided in dealing with them," Cole said Friday.