Today, Reps. Anthony Brown (MD-04) Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-1), and 17 original cosponsors introduced an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent federal funds from being used for any military force against Iran without congressional authorization. Specifically, this amendment clarifies neither the 2001 nor 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) can be invoked to justify the use of military force against Iran. This amendment must next be made in order by the Rules Committee and then it will be considered on the floor during the NDAA debate in July.
"President Trump has deliberately and recklessly set us down the path toward conflict with Iran, and risks stumbling into another war in the Middle East. He has created an environment where Members of Congress and the American people have no sense of what our strategy is to bring Iran to the negotiating table to ensure they don't acquire nuclear weapons," said Rep. Brown. "The Trump administration should pursue diplomatic solutions to the current tensions, and must come to Congress before engaging in armed hostilities with the Iranian regime. This amendment makes clear that we will not allow President Trump to take us into an unauthorized war with Iran, and we will do everything we can to safeguard our constitutional war-making authority."
"Last week, we watched President Trump come within minutes of striking Iran and involving the United States in yet another trillion-dollar war in the Middle East," said Rep. Khanna. "President Trump campaigned on ending costly wars overseas but given the advisors he chose and his recent risky actions, he is not living up to that promise. This bipartisan amendment is a vital safeguard against unilateral actions by this president who selected the architect of the Iraq war to be his national security advisor. This amendment is also proof that opposition to war with Iran transcends partisan politics. With this effort, Americans can come together around the idea that we must stop a war with Iran."
"This amendment affirms what President Trump knows and believes: unfocused, unconstitutional, unending wars in the Middle East make America weaker, not stronger," said Rep. Gaetz. "The United States must be strong in its approach to Iran, and I applaud President Trump for acknowledging that strength can be demonstrated through mindful restraint. Iran must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon and threatening international peace, but Congress must resolve to ensure that any military action is carried out Constitutionally."
"It is clear that the Trump Administration's so-called maximum pressure campaign does not have a strategic endgame that avoids escalation and encourages negotiation. Instead it is further destabilizing what is an already dangerous neighborhood," said House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith. "It is critical that congress fulfil our Constitutional responsibility and the President must seek approval for any offensive introduction of U.S. forces into armed conflict. For that reason, I thank Representative Khanna and the cosponsors of this amendment for their leadership and agreeing to come together to support this effort."
"If the President wants to attack Iran, he needs to come to Congress for authorization. The Constitution gives Congress--not the President--the power to declare war," said House Foreign Affairs Chairman Engel. "This measure reaffirms our role and reaffirms our checks and balances on this critical issue. Congress is a coequal branch of government, and we are going to assert our constitutional role whether Donald Trump likes it or not. The United States does not have an interest in a war with Iran, but I'm deeply concerned that the Trump Administration's unwillingness to deescalate tensions may stumble us into war anyway. I'm proud to join with Mr. Khanna and Mr. Levin and I'm grateful for their leadership on this issue."
"This current situation with Iran is a crisis of the president's own making. The United States had a deal in place to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and this president withdrew us from that deal," said House Rules Chairman McGovern. "The lack of leadership and clarity from this White House is, quite frankly, a national security threat. We are deeply alarmed that the president and his inept cabinet are going to bumble and fumble their way into a war. That's why we are standing together to introduce this amendment today -- to state as clearly as we can that only Congress has the constitutional authority to authorize our military to engage in hostilities against Iran or any country. The American people do not want war with Iran. Period."
"As a former CIA analyst who focused on Iranian-backed militias, as a former Pentagon official and someone who worked at the White House under both Republican and Democratic administrations, let me be clear: if the Administration wants to take us to war with Iran, they must get authorization from Congress," said Rep. Slotkin. "That is how our Constitution works. The Administration does not have that authority, and any claim that the 2001 AUMF grants them that authority should be viewed with an extremely skeptical eye. Such a claim rests on a relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran, and Americans should not forget that it was the alleged relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq, which was embellished and fabricated, that was used to help get us into war in Iraq. Iran is undoubtedly a bad actor, engages in destabilizing activities across the Middle East, and the U.S. always retains the right to self-defense. That doesn't mean that we get into a medium- to long-term war with Iran, and that doesn't mean that Administration can disregard the Constitution in doing so. We owe it to our military ---- and to ourselves, as a nation who has been at war in the Middle East for 18 years ---- to provide our troops clarity, and to abide by the Constitution which they have sworn to protect. And as an Army wife with a step-daughter who could very well be deployed to the Middle East, I feel strongly that Congress has a responsibility to enforce the roles and responsibilities laid out in the Constitution. I'm proud to join my colleagues today on both sides of the aisle in introducing an amendment that provides clarity on authorization of military force, and I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting it."
"We're not about to stand idly by while this President threatens to get us into an unconstitutional war the American people don't want," said Rep. Andy Levin. "This amendment is absolutely essential to preventing an unauthorized attack on Iran and keeping Americans safe."
"My own experience in war has shown me its devastating costs in a way that our draft-dodging president and his warmongering advisor John Bolton fundamentally do not understand," said Rep. Moulton. "This Amendment has broad support--not just among progressives, but also among combat veterans like me. All of us know Iran should never be underestimated. But, at this moment, the best chance to avoid the deaths of young Americans in another war in the Middle East is through diplomacy. This should be our goal, and it's up to Congress to exercise its Constitutional authority to avert war while peace is still on the table."
"There is a faction within the Trump administration that is desperate to begin a war with Iran regardless of the cost in American blood, innocent lives, and our national treasure," said Rep. Himes. "Congress cannot allow the administration to usurp our Constitutional duty to make and declare war. Today's amendment, led by Representative Khanna, shifts power back to the hands of Congress, where it rightfully belongs, and makes it less likely that we'll fall into another disastrous conflict that has no clear goals or exit strategy."
"I am proud to join my congressional colleagues as a lead co-sponsor of an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit the unauthorized use of military force against Iran," said Rep. Barbara Lee. "As the sole vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001, I continue to stand against granting any president a blank check for war without congressional approval. As Trump and Pompeo continue to provoke a war with Iran, it's more important than ever that Congress re-assert its Constitutional authority on war and peace and make clear that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFS cannot be used as the legal basis for the use of force against Iran."
"The most solemn responsibility of Congress is the decision to send our men and women into harm's way," said Rep. Crow. "As both a member of Congress and combat veteran, I refuse to abdicate that role to John Bolton. We need to pull the emergency brake on the President's runaway train and develop a cohesive, clear strategy for dealing with Iran. I was proud to serve in Afghanistan, but I will not allow the next generation to be pulled into another endless war. This amendment is an important first step for Congress to reassert its role in matters of war and diplomacy."
"This Congress must buck the trend of abdicating its Constitutional responsibility to debate and declare war," said Rep. Garamendi. "The last three administrations have engaged in military conflict using the incredibly broad 2001 AUMF, and Congress has done little to reinsert itself into the process. I remain resolved in my determination to pass this amendment and ensure that Congress reasserts its responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution."
"The Trump Administration's reckless behavior toward Iran threatens to plunge our country into another endless and costly war," said Rep. Haaland. "We have peaceful, proven tools to bring other countries to the negotiating table. Under the leadership of President Obama, these tools successfully neutralized Iran's nuclear program. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration's irresponsible policies have squandered that progress and instead set into motion tensions that could easily spiral out of control. After so many years and so much money spent waging war, we must engage in careful and measured consideration before entering into yet another armed conflict."
"The entire U.S. Government, not just the Department of Defense, works every day to counteract Iran's destabilizing and dangerous behavior. President Trump's reckless behavior on Iran, however, is endangering our troops, damaging our national security, and alienating our allies," said Rep. Gallego. "It is Congress' power alone to declare war or authorize the use of military force. The Trump Administration's claims to use counterterrorism authorizations to attack Iran are not legitimate. That is why I am proud to cosponsor this amendment, which would make clear that Congress has a role deciding whether and how to use force against another country."
"The White House is trying to goad us into a military conflict that is completely irresponsible," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. "Diplomacy is what grants us peace and stability - not war. We will not let powerful people outside of Congress force our country into war. I proudly support this amendment prohibiting the use of any funds for a war with Iran without Congressional authorization."
The 17 cosponsors of the amendment are: Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA-9), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD-4), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-2), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8), Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI-9), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1), Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT-4), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-5), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-7), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM-1).