Alex Emmons writes about two measures passed by the House of Representatives that would limit the ability of the president to wage wars and also get rid of the authorization that has been used to wage the current wars.
ON THURSDAY, the House of Representatives passed two measures aimed at restricting President Donald Trump’s war powers. The first, sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fl., would prohibit the administration from spending any money to attack Iran without congressional preapproval, except in self defense. The second, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., would repeal Congress’s 17-year-old Iraq War authorization, which the Trump administration cited as a legal basis for assassinating Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani earlier this month.
Republican leadership in the Senate is likely to block a vote, though some Senate Republicans have supported similar legislation in the aftermath of the United States’ killing of Suleimani. Even so, the measures — both amendments attached to an uncontroversial commemorative bill — are further censure for Trump’s confrontational Iran policy.
Similar measures have been passed before. So why have they not had any effect? It is not just because the senate blocks it.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution directing Trump to terminate unauthorized military action against Iran. Democrats on the floor explained that their votes reflect an increasing concern in Congress that Trump’s actions could quickly escalate into war.
Last year, Congress has previously passed the Khanna-Gaetz measure last year, as an amendment to a major annual policy bill last year, and it drew 27 Republican votes. A companion amendment got 50 votes in the Senate, but due to procedural maneuvering from Republican leadership, it needed 60 votes. Democrats were ultimately unable to secure the amendment in the final compromise version of the bill. It, as well as other amendments, were traded for other Democratic priorities, like securing paid family leave for federal employees .[My italics-MS]
This kind of deal making is what kills a lot of measures. Sometimes such measures are introduced just so that they can be used as bargaining chips for other things. Another problem is that funding bills are bundled together into big omnibus bills. As a result, members end up voting for things they do not like along with the things they like.
The way that the House of Representatives can really end wars is to not pass appropriations that fund these wars. I believe that the House has the power to do so and there is nothing that the Senate can do to stop it since all spending bills must originate in the House. But the leadership of the House does not have the stomach to take such a drastic step because feeding the ravenous appetite of the war machine has become a sign of patriotism. So they pass these largely symbolic measures.