Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the War Powers Resolution that passed the House is an “unserious” and “purely political document.”
Gallagher was asked why he thinks the Trump administration would need authorization from Congress for the airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani given that the Obama administration didn’t receive authorization for the war in Libya in 2011.
“It obviously wouldn’t be required because this was fundamentally a defensive action. The president has inherent authority under Article II to do what’s necessary to defend our troops against imminent threats. Furthermore, our troops are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government and pursuant to congressional authorization that Congress has never taken time to repeal,” Gallagher said during an exclusive interview.
“So I think it gets to a basic question of whether you want us to be in Iraq and believe in the mission and I view this War Powers Resolution, if you read the document, as an unserious document; as a purely political document; as an attempt to criticize the president without asking the harder questions about what we need to be doing in the region to push back Iran,” he added.
Gallagher, who served in the Marines, shared his reaction to the Iraqi parliament voting to expel U.S. troops from the country following the airstrike.
“I think the vote was significant but for precisely the opposite reason that everyone is suggesting. In fact, suggestions today were that they either barely were able to muster a quorum or didn’t actually technically muster a quorum,” Gallagher said.
“I think it’s 328 members of Parliament and only about 170 showed up. And those were largely the Shia legislators that are influenced by Iran,” Gallagher said during the interview, which took place shortly before Iran’s missile attack against bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops.
“I think this suggests, as do the ongoing protests we’ve seen in Tahrir Square since October, that Iran is in an increasingly isolated position within Iraq and there are a ton of people there that don’t want the Supreme Leader to call the shots,” he added.
Gallagher continued, “We want a strong, stable, independent sovereign Iraq — Iran does not want that. And so, I hope that the Iraqi people will choose to continue the partnership with the U.S. and I for one would counsel the president to remain strong in that partnership and strong in pushing back against Iran and I commend him for this decision.”
Gallagher was asked if he thinks any further military action toward Iran would require formal authorization from Congress. In response, Gallagher said he would support repealing the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations to Use Military Force (AUMFs) that Congress passed.
“Anything beyond the bounds of defensive action or protecting our troops and certainly anything in the realm of a sustained campaign against Iran, particularly if it’s on Iranian soil, would, of course, require authorization from Congress. I’m of the opinion that we should repeal the ’91 and the 2002 AUMFs and have a broader discussion about the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution,” he said.
“But certainly for a sustained campaign against Iran I think the president would require authorization. And I think if Iran miscalculates and escalates further and certainly kills more Americans, it would spark a reaction among the American people that would hopefully be heard by my colleagues and we would give the president the authority to do what’s necessary to defend the country,” he added.
The House passed a War Powers Resolution on Thursday.