Congress Can Prevent a War with Iran. And It’s More Important than Ever.
Last month, we were ten minutes from war with Iran. After Iran downed an unmanned U.S. drone, President Trump reportedly called off a military strike that would have triggered a disastrous war.
Luckily, Trump recognized how destructive a strike on Iran could be before it was too late. However, if the only protection the American and Iranian people have against a war is the whims of an impulsive president egged on by pro-war ideologues like John Bolton, it is only a matter of time before Trump orders a strike he won’t call off.
That is why Congress must assert its power to prevent an ill-advised war of choice with Iran. Administration officials and the President himself have made it clear they do not think they need to go to Congress first before starting a war. Bizarrely, they have even sought to tie Iran to al-Qaeda in an apparent attempt to justify a war under the 2001 authorization to use military force, which has deeply alarmed Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The warning signs are there, and Congress can’t afford to stick its head in the sand. The founders empowered Congress with the responsibility to declare war in order to pose a check on an out-of-control Executive, like we are seeing today.
This week, the House will consider a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna and Matt Gaetz to bar funding for an unauthorized Iran war. The Khanna-Gaetz amendment, which was offered as part of the annual defense authorization, builds on momentum from last month when the Senate voted on the Kaine-Udall amendment to bar funding for an unauthorized war with Iran. While 50 senators voted in favor of the amendment, Senators Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton shamefully rallied 40 to vote against it, blocking it from passing.
With McConnell and his allies stonewalling in the Senate, the best chance of Congress passing a check on Trump’s ability to start an unauthorized war with Iran will be the Khanna-Geatz amendment. Failing to seize this opportunity would be a huge mistake, undermining both Congress’ Constitutional power to declare war and signaling to the administration that the legislature will not stand in the way of a march to another war of choice in the Middle East.
Congress, as well as Trump, need to hear loud and clear that the American people do not have an appetite for a war with Iran, and that we will not accept our representatives in Congress punting their constitutional authority to the President out of some misguided sense of party loyalty or squeamish hesitation to take a vote on an issue of consequence.
The American and Iranian people should not be forced to live in fear of being just a few short minutes from a disastrous war. Congress can and must provide the guardrails necessary to ensure the U.S. does not blindly stumble into another tragic, costly, and unnecessary war.
By: Sarah Crowley