Though U.S. Democratic lawmakers are outraged over President Trump’s failure to inform Congress of his intentions to strike against a top Iranian military commander, there is little they can do about the president’s actions or neglect to inform them.
As the members of Congress returned from their holiday recess, Democrats began discussing their attempt to quickly pass legislation to bar Trump – or any future president – from striking against Iran without first obtaining approval from Congress.
Sunday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic-led chamber would introduce and vote a War Powers Resolution this week that would force the president to stop military action against Iran within 30 days.
In addition, a similar resolution was introduced in the Senate Friday by Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Dick Durbin. “Every member of Congress should vote and then be accountable for whether another war in the Middle East is a good idea,” Kaine told the Senate Monday.
However, Republicans are in control of the Senate and appear to be dedicated to their party and the president, so it is highly unlikely any of the legislation from Democrats will gain enough support to become law.
There is no indication when the chamber will debate the issue.
Iran and the U.S have been in a war of words since Friday when terrorist Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport.
On Sunday, Trump threatened to target Iran for any retaliatory attacks they made. Iran then indicated it was resigning from commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.
President Trump broke precedent by his failure to inform congressional leaders before he ordered the attack on Soleimani. Instead, he decided to classify his formal notification to Congress about the attack on Saturday.
On Wednesday, the Senate received a classified briefing on the Iran situation from the Trump administration officials that included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley.
The War Powers Act indicates that the president must inform Congress within 48 hours of introducing military forces into armed conflict abroad. The act also bars a president from committing armed forces from any foreign action lasting more than 60 days without the approval of Congress.
President Trump posted remarks on his social media account on Sunday indicating that his posts would serve as notification to Congress that the country “will quickly & fully strike back” if Iran attacks any U.S. person or target, and that he had no legal requirement to inform Congress.
Congress has some power over the president in this area, but not much. The main power is its control of federal spending. The House could pass legislation that bars the president from spending taxpayer money on a conflict with Iran. Resolutions, however, are non-binding.
They can also refuse to pass bills the White House supports as well as playing a game to block the president’s nominees.
Due to the Democratic-led House impeachment efforts, the president’s party has shown dedication to him, which leaves little chance any efforts of Democrats to control his plans to deal with Iran will be successful.