Rep. Slotkin leads U.S. House on war powers resolution in wake of Trump-Iran tensions | Michigan Radio
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Rep. Slotkin leads U.S. House on war powers resolution in wake of Trump-Iran tensions

Jan 9, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a resolution to limit President Donald Trump's ability to take further military action against Iran. U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat representing Michigan's 8th District, sponsored the measure. 

The resolution would force President Trump to back off military engagement with Iran unless he gets congressional approval or if it is necessary "to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces." The resolution comes after United States forces killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, last week while he was in Iraq.  

Slotkin said the resolution is not meant to constrain the president’s authority to defend the country or its military personnel.

"It’s frankly just restating what the Constitution says about who declares war,” she said.

On Wednesday, Slotkin and other members of Congress received a classified briefing on the killing of Soleimani from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials. The congresswoman said the briefing left many, including herself, without a full picture of what happened.

Two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, were highly critical about the lack of forthcoming information on the decision to order the attack. Slotkin said she hopes additional reports expected from CIA Director Gina Haspel will bring more clarity as to how that decision was made.

"But I do think Senator Lee has it right in this very, very simple idea that if we're going to be putting any of our U.S. servicemen and women in harm's way either, again, because we want to get into a war or because we slide into a war, we should be having a robust conversation as a country," Slotkin said.

Slotkin’s resolution would require a vote from both the U.S. House and Senate, but it would not require a signature from President Trump. This is what's known as a "concurrent resolution." Republican critics say even if the measure passes, it's not legally binding. But Slotkin says it will force members of Congress to have a serious conversation about Congress's war powers, and to put their vote on the record.

"This is the responsibility of this body, to provide oversight into how we put our young people into conflict," she said "And I'm sorry if it's politically difficult for people. That doesn't mean we get to skip out on our responsibilities."

Slotkin said she is relieved that tensions between the U.S. and Iran seem to have calmed in the past few days, but warned that does not mean that the situation with Iran is resolved.

“If anyone thinks that Iran is done responding to the killing of Qassim Suleimani, they just don’t know Iran,” Slotkin continued. “And while they say that they’re done for now, I just unfortunately have to assume that they’re looking at cyber threats, they’re looking at using their Shia proxies in Iraq and other places to attack us in a way that sort of obscures their role.”

The House passed the resolution on Thursday. The Senate is required to take it up within 10 days.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan.