Stating that yesterday’s classified briefing on the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani failed to convince him of a “true strategy or legal justification” for the U.S. action, Santa Barbara Representative Salud Carbajal voted today to limit President Trump’s ability to authorize military actions against Iran. He was among 224 Congressmembers — 220 Democrats, three Republicans, and the chamber’s sole Independent — who invoked the War Powers Act, a resolution that dates to the Vietnam War and requires a president to consult with Congress within 48 hours committing troops to a foreign conflict. It further requires troop withdrawal within 60 days unless Congress authorizes the use of force. The U.S. Constitution reserves to Congress the power to declare war.
“I was a part of the administration’s classified briefing to Congress yesterday,” Carbajal stated in a press release. “It only strengthened my belief that President Trump did not have a true strategy or legal justification for his recent actions regarding Iran, and that Congress must step in and assert our constitutional authority.”
After the briefing, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) erupted to the gathered press corps that the administration wouldn’t agree to any scenario in which the president had to consult with Congress before engaging in further hostilities against Iran, including possibly orchestrating the death of its Supreme Leader.
As has been widely reported, Soleimani was in the Revolutionary Guards during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, during which personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran were held hostage until being released in 1981 in a swap for frozen Iranian assets. He rose through the ranks, becoming the mastermind in a special branch called the Quds Force, using proxy militias in the fight for control of the Middle East. In its defense, the Trump administration blamed Soleimani for providing Iraqi militias with powerful landmines that caused the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers. Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike on January 3 as his car left Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
Wednesday’s briefing was intended to support the administration’s claim that the killing of Soleimani was warranted because he was planning a large strike against the U.S., its military, or allies, though, like Carbajal and Lee, many congressmembers came away unconvinced.
The resolution — H.Con.Res. 83 — instructs the president to end hostilities in Iran unless Congress authorizes them, Carbajal’s office stated. It notes the addition of 15,000 troops in the region due to antagonism with Iran, which the killing of its noted general would worsen. It also excludes actions against al Qaeda or associated forces from the resolution. Carbajal stated he believed Trump’s unilateral “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran since withdrawing from the nuclear treaty has escalated tensions, which the resolution is intended to calm.