The House passed the War Powers Act Thursday to curtail President Donald Trump’s power regarding military action in Iran. The vote was 224 yeas to 194 nays, a largely party-line vote with three defections from the Republicans and eight from the Democrats.
One notable GOP defection was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a stalwart Trump ally, who said that while he supports the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, getting into another “forever war” in the Middle East would be the “wrong decision.” He made sure to add that he still ardently supports Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to her colleagues Sunday informing them that she’d introduce the resolution, a few days after Trump green-lit the drone strike that killed Soleimani.
“It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days,” she wrote.
Some Republicans, like Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), vociferously defended Trump’s saber-rattling and accused Democrats of lacking patriotism for their opposition to his sudden strike.
“We see that they mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families who suffered under Soleimani,” he said on Fox Business Network.
However, a couple choice Republicans changed their tune Wednesday, after an apparently lackluster Senate briefing.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) called it “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate,” so “demeaning” that he is now backing the war powers resolution introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in the Senate.
He took particular issue with the guidance not to debate the issue, but to unflinchingly follow the Trump party line.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) echoed some of those sentiments, adding the need for “a debate about separation of powers.”
Another concern about the strike, being raised mostly by Democrats, is that the rationale for the administration’s strike against Soleimani is still unclear. Administration officials headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been citing an “imminent threat” to American lives in the region that called for action.
However, neither he nor any other official has gotten much more explicit than that and lawmakers have emerged from classified briefings dissatisfied with the explanations given.