In a “Dear colleague” letter to Democrats dated Sunday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed President Trump’s “provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials” and announced a vote this week on a War Powers Resolution to limit his military actions in Iran.
Among those killed was Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani. Iran has vowed revenge and Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops. Trump issued incendiary tweets on Saturday, appearing to possibly endorse committing war crimes by targeting cultural sites in the Middle Eastern country.
….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
On Sunday, Trump also dismissed criticism from congressional leaders, who weren’t informed of the attack, by tweeting that they were thereby notified on Twitter that if Iran strikes “any U.S. person or target the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner.”
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, a constitutional lawyer and the chamber’s lone independent, didn’t take kindly to Trump’s tweet and posted one of his own that the president is legally obligated to get congressional approval for military action, complete with images of the Constitution.
This Constitution of the United States of America will serve as notification to the president that should he order nondefensive strikes without congressional approval, he will be in violation of the law. Such legal notice was provided in 1789 but is given here again nevertheless. pic.twitter.com/ZzTDRbuDqf
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 6, 2020
Pelosi said that the House resolution will led by freshman U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), who the speaker noted is a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst specializing in Shia militias” who “served multiple tours in the region under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.”
In a statement on Monday, Slotkin addressed the overall situation in Iraq, recent history and what the impact could be if U.S. forces leave.
“The question many Americans are likely asking following the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel U.S. troops from Iraq: Why does it matter if we are kicked out of Iraq?” I certainly understand why many Americans would question why we’d want to stay, given the blood and treasure we have invested in that part of the world,” she said.
“First and foremost, our presence in Iraq helps ensure that ISIS doesn’t regenerate and regain the ability to threaten the United States, Europe and the Middle East. After U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, it took ISIS only two short years to gain power. Mosul and Raqqa, the two ISIS power centers in their self-proclaimed caliphate were finally liberated in 2017,” she said. “The second reason to stay is, ironically, the same reason the President chose to go after Qasim Soleimani: to counterbalance Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East.”
Slotkin said if we are asked to leave Iraq, “it gives the Iranian government a freer hand in Iraq … to expand the capabilities of the Shia militias and Iran’s placement of ballistic missiles in Iraq, which can project violence into places like Saudi Arabia and Israel. This last issue could be a game changer.”
Pelosi wrote Trump’s action “endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran. As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.”
The resolution mandates that if no further congressional action is taken, the administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran must cease within 30 days.
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is introducing a similar resolution in the GOP-led U.S. Senate, which is not expected to take action. The Senate voted this summer to prohibit an unauthorized military attack on Iran or its armed forces, with U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) voting for it, although it failed to meet the 60-vote threshold.
Several Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation have criticized Trump’s action.
“This administration carried out high-level military action without an authorization of military force from Congress. The president must convince this body and the American people, that he has the ability to act and think strategically,” said U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield). “I am not convinced that he has thought through the consequences of our military actions. Therefore, there must be an immediately briefing of the full Congress to guarantee the country has a comprehensive plan to address any retaliation, as well as the possible increased deployment of troops to the Middle East.”
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) came out strongly against war with Iran.
“The drone strike in Iraq ordered by the Trump Administration is yet another reckless action made with no regard for the checks and balances set out by our Constitution. Such provocative actions will put even more lives, both at home and abroad, in danger,” she said. “We have an entire generation of people and children who have only known a United States at war. We cannot stay silent as this lawless President recklessly engages in actions that move us closer to yet another unnecessary war that will undoubtedly result in more bloodshed. The President is not a king and this is not a monarchy, this is a democracy. Therefore, as a co-equal branch of government and the body with the sole authority to declare war, Congress must clearly say no to war with Iran.”
However, U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) said in a statement that the “United States must continue to defend itself.”
“Iran has long been an adversary of and has become increasingly belligerent toward the United States and its allies. General Soleimani was the central figure in planning and executing Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of American service members in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. The United States must continue to defend itself and its allies and must be prepared to address any response Iran chooses to pursue.”