President Trump on Wednesday declared a win in his standoff with Iran, imposing new sanctions on the Islamic Republic and signaling military de-escalation as the two countries have grown close to war over the last week.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are still looking to rein in the president’s war powers, with the House set to vote Thursday on a resolution limiting Trump’s military actions against Iran.
Trump kicked off his address to the nation Wednesday with the unequivocal threat, “Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
Trump signaled he would not retaliate militarily for Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. No one was harmed in the strikes, but U.S. forces in the region remained on high alert days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned, and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said. “To the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve.”
Trump did not indicate the extent of the sanctions, but said that they will remain in place until the country’s leadership “changes its behavior.”
The president labeled Soleimani “the world’s top terrorist” and called out the Iranian leadership for killing hundreds of protesters.
“Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him,” Trump said.
But after an Iran briefing from top administration officials that Democrats said lacked specific justification for the killing, Pelosi announced a House vote on a war powers resolution to limit Trump’s military actions.
“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 Congress declares war on that country or to prevent an attack by Iran on the U.S. and its forces, the resolution says.
“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Our concerns were not addressed by the President’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the Administration’s briefing today.”
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has been calling for the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force in the Middle East.
“Congress has allowed presidents to run rampant in the Middle East since the early 2000s. No more,” he tweeted Wednesday. “As we are pushing towards war once again, Congress must act. We must uphold our constitutional right and check this president’s power.”
After Pelosi’s announcement about the war powers resolution vote, Kennedy tweeted, “This is a good first step. But we must go farther. No president, let alone this one, should be able to start wars in the Middle East without the American people’s consent. Repeal the AUMFs.”
The House may also soon consider a resolution to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, Pelosi said in a statement.
“The Administration must work with Congress to advance an immediate, effective de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence,” she added. “America and the world cannot afford war.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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