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House votes to clamp down on Trump’s power to attack Iran

House votes to clamp down on Trump’s power to attack Iran
The US House of Representatives has voted in favor of a bill restricting President Donald Trump’s ability to wage war on Iran. The vote comes a day after escalatory strikes nearly brought both the US and Iran to the brink of war.

Despite its passage, the bill lacks the teeth to actually curb Trump’s warmaking powers, should he decide to take military action against Iran. As a ‘Concurrent Resolution,’ it does not need Trump’s signature, will not go on to the Republican-controlled Senate for approval, and will not become law. Instead it simply expresses the position of the House.

The bill was sponsored by former CIA analyst and Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Michigan), and calls on Trump to "to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran," unless Congress formally declares war on the Islamic Republic. The bill was written in the aftermath of the American assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed at Baghdad airport on Friday in a drone strike.

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Iran responded by launching a volley of ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq used by American troops. The attacks killed nobody, with Baghdad reportedly forewarned, and Trump declined to respond with force, opting to place further economic sanctions on Iran instead. Despite the apparent cooldown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a vote on the bill regardless, stating on Wednesday that “America and the world cannot afford war.”

The power to declare war is held exclusively by Congress, under The War Powers Resolution of 1973. Without Congressional authorization, the President cannot commit troops to any foreign conflict for more than 60 days. However, the resolution was allegedly violated by Bill Clinton, when he ordered the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

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Since 2001, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has allowed successive administrations to wage war against anyone they deemed “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since its passing, the act has been invoked 41 times to allow US military action in 19 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

However, the AUMF may soon be scrapped too. Pelosi announced on Wednesday that the House may soon consider legislation to repeal and replace the act.

In the hours leading up to Thursday’s vote, Trump asked House Republicans to “vote against Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution,” calling the resolution “Just another Democrat fraud,” and “Presidential Harassment.”

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