On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a War Powers Resolution supposedly directing President Donald Trump to stop any hostilities against Iran. This resolution — which Republicans have rightly condemned as “toothless” — does not have any binding authority and merely tells Trump the House disapproves of his strike to kill Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.
The House approved the resolution, 224-194, with almost no Republican support, the Associated Press reported.
“The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases, risks significant escalation in hostilities between the United States and Iran,” the resolution states.
Citing the War Powers Resolution passed under President Richard Nixon, “Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless—(1) Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or (2) such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.”
After the strike killed Soleimani, the Pentagon reported that intelligence linked the Quds Force leader to the siege on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and with a forthcoming attack on U.S. troops in the region.
While some have questioned the reliability of the intelligence report — notably Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) condemned a briefing based on the intelligence — the link between Soleimani and the embassy attack is extremely likely.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) filed a companion resolution to this War Powers Resolution in the Senate. That resolution faces an uphill battle in the Republican-dominated chamber.
In other words, this resolution is not just toothless — it is also unlikely to pass both chambers of Congress. This piece of virtue-signaling seems particularly ill fated after Trump’s statement calling for deescalation on Wednesday.
Democrats are trying to condemn as a violation of Congress’s war powers a strike that killed a man responsible for much terrorism and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops in the region and that did not result in a war. If Democrats were really concerned about returning power to the Congress from the Executive Branch, they would consider the REINS Act. That bill might even be signed by President Trump, and it would do far more to empower Congress than this worthless piece of virtue-signaling.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.