In a move that should please those hoping to avoid war with Iran, the House voted Friday to prevent President Donald Trump from starting a war with Iran without congressional authorization. The piece of legislation, which passed 251-170, was an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that bars funding to use military force against Iran without Congress’s blessing.
It also clarifies that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has been used to justify several U.S. military operations around the world, does not apply when it comes to Iran. That said, it still preserves the president’s authority under the War Powers Resolution.
In response to criticism from his fellow Republicans, Gaetz had this to say: “If my war hungry colleagues — some of whom have already suggested that we invade Venezuela, North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow — if they’re so certain of their case against Iran, let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor.”
For his part, Khanna called the legislation “the most important foreign policy vote in the United States Congress.”
The broader measure passed 220-197 after several provisions were tacked on by Democrats regarding border and immigration policy, military spending, and carceral procedure. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has decried the bill as “moving in a direction that does make America less safe.”
For one, the bill includes a ban on transferring new detainees to Guantanamo Bay and denies Trump’s $88 million requests to build a new prison there. It also reverses a ban against transferring detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.
From a military standpoint, the bill cuts the overall military budget by about $17 billion — down to $725 billion a year. It also bans the deployment of a new submarine-launched nuclear missile and blocks the Trump Administration from diverting military funds to a border wall.
Other, broadly popular points in the bill include a 3.1% pay raise for military service members and expanded medical and child benefits for military families. The bill also provides 12 weeks of paid family leave to all federal workers.
Still, even with the passing of this bill, the U.S. has sent thousands of troops to the Middle East in preparation for the possibility of broad conflict with Iran. The Trump Administration plans to veto the bill, and with the Senate passing their own bill last month, negotiations will most likely be lengthy. This is to say, this could take a while.
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