The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution limiting President Donald Trump’s power to carry out military action against Iran.
The non-binding resolution is to remind Trump of the key role of Congress in approving any military attack abroad, a move being seen as an attempt to circumscribe the power of the White House to unilaterally undertake “military action” against Iran.
In a 224-194 vote, the Democratic majority in the House approved the resolution which was introduced by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi had earlier on Wednesday in a statement said that the Democrats will move forward because their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials.
“The President has made clear that he does not have a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe, achieve de-escalation with Iran and ensure stability in the region,” Pelosi further added.
The resolution comes a day after Iran on Wednesday launched over a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases housing US troops in Iraq. The strikes were in retaliation to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
However, no loss of lives has been reported in the attack.
Meanwhile, Iran is believed to have deliberately missed targeting US forces during retaliatory missile strikes on bases housing American troops in Iraq to prevent escalation of the situation in the region.
Last Friday, President Trump had ordered the death of Gen Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, considered a hero in Iran.
However, the House was not notified of the January 3 operation.
Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans voted to support it, so it was not a vote that went strictly according to party lines.
To avoid an expected Trump veto, Democratic legislators used a legal formula known as a “concurrent resolution” that will be considered approved once both chambers of Congress ratify it but does not require the signature of the president, and thus cannot become law.
The resolution is based on the 1973 War Powers Act and demands that the president provide a report to Congress within 48 hours of any offensive military action not based on a formal declaration of war.
After sending the report, the chief executive must end any military action within the next 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension, if Congress does not formally declare war or approve a specific authorization for that foreign military action.
The text of the resolution is based exclusively on a possible conflict with Iran, despite the fact that both Washington and Tehran on Wednesday expressed their willingness – at least for now – to back away from a military confrontation.
The resolution specifically states that Congress has not authorized the president to use military force against Iran.
Although Trump did not inform Congress before the hit on Soleimani, he did notify lawmakers before the 48-hour limit demanded by law, but he did so in a confidential document.
Democrats are planning to push forward with a similar resolution next week in the Senate, but the Republican majority there complicates approval of that text, which would urge Trump to end within 30 days any military action against Iran that was not authorised by Congress.