Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced plans to vote on a war powers resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, the resolution could limit President Donald Trump’s actions in escalating tensions with Iran.
Pelosi said in her announcement Sunday night that the Trump administration’s recent killing of a top Iran official “endangered our service members, diplomats and others.”
She continued, saying there was concern the administration took this action without consulting Congress and “without respect for Congress’ war powers granted to it by the Constitution.”
The resolution in the House is similar to a resolution U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., introduced in the Senate Friday. If passed, it would require military action in Iran to end within 30 days unless Congress formally approves action to continue or a declaration of war.
Yale Law School professor Oona Hathaway said the resolution Pelosi announced is not a war powers resolution in the traditional sense.
“Really what it is is a resolution reasserting Congress’ authority over the decision to go to war with Iran,” she said.
Hathaway said there is little likelihood the resolution would become law, considering it would have to pass the House and Republican-led Senate and go to Trump’s desk for approval. But she said it would set the tone for Congress’ approval of Trump’s actions in Iran.
“Once Congress has made explicit its position that it rejects what the president is doing, that puts the president in a position where his constitutional powers are much weaker,” she said.
In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump said that the United States would “quickly and fully strike back, and perhaps in a disproportionate manner” should Iran strike any U.S. person or target.
The tweet itself threatened to break several laws, Hathaway said in a thread on Twitter.
First, a tweet does not count as an official notice to Congress of a military operation under the traditional War Powers Resolution, she said. Second, it shows that the president is not consulting with Congress about a military operation, which is another requirement under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
“This is really unprecedented, striking, surprising and frankly, pretty upsetting for a lot of people who care about the law,” Hathaway told McClatchy.
The tweet did further damage by saying the U.S. would take action that is disproportionate to any action by Iran, which is a violation of international law, she said.
“What that indicates is that the process has just completely fallen apart,” Hathaway said. “And that the lawyers are just not really playing any significant role.”