Trump, US lawmakers battle over war powers amid Iran tensions

Friday, 10 Jan, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would ask North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to step up its involvement in the Middle East, an unexpected request from a president who in the past has questioned the relevance of the transatlantic alliance and split with some member nations over his approach to Iran.

The war powers resolution gathered momentum after a congressional briefing on Wednesday by administration officials seeking to justify the attack.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee (UT) and Rand Paul (KY) came out of the briefing with a slightly different take.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told MSNBC that the briefing showed "there was no imminent threat to cause this assassination to happen right when it did".

"This is a statement of the Congress of the United States and I will not have that statement be diminished by whether the president will veto it or not", Pelosi said.

While he said Trump didn't ask for Canada, specifically, to increase its military presence in the Middle East, Trudeau said the two leaders talked about the importance of continuing their efforts to stabilize Iraq and prevent the re-emergence of ISIS in the region.

Both opposition lawmakers and the public are opposed to the move, with Jun Azumi, the Diet affairs chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan calling on the government to scrap the highly divisive and contentious plan, in light of ongoing tensions in the region that could still flare up and see the region become a war zone, and the nation's war-renouncing Constitution. Sanders said she couldn't think of anything dumber than Congress asserting its constitutional powers.

President Trump yesterday called on China and other nations to abandon the "defective" Iran nuclear deal.

On Tuesday, Iran launched a dozen ballistic missiles at bases housing USA forces.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed also described Trump's behavior with Iran as "reckless", while 62 percent said the strike that killed Soleimani made it more likely that the United States and Iran will go to war.

Upon being briefed on the matter, Republicans mostly emerged with praise for Trump's handling of the crisis. Though Lee supported taking out Soleimani, he declared he's now in favor of the Democrats' recently introduced resolution on war powers, which is created to prevent President Donald Trump from further military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

"Let me say that the fact that no American lives were lost was a great relief I know to the president, to myself, to our entire national security team, as it is to every American", he asserted.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, said in an interview with MSNBC that the briefers suggested a congressional debate on military operations against Iran would result in "disrespecting our troops".

The rockets were played down by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper to reporters on Wednesday. That was most particularly done via the 1973 War Powers Act, which ostensibly was created to rein in the executive branch's authority to engage in armed conflict.

The resolution being voted on would reassert Congress's authority to declare war by mandating that absent additional congressional action, the Trump administration's military hostilities against Iran cease within 30 days.

Pelosi said she also wants the House to take up legislation that would repeal the 2002 authorization of military force in Iraq. But the strike highlighted the hard position of Iraq, caught in an ever-deepening conflict between Trump and Iran.