“Every member of Congress who voted to give the most corrupt, unhinged, and unstable president in history $738 billion to fight endless wars…must never tell us that we cannot afford Medicare for All or a Green New Deal.” — Warren Gunnels, Sanders senior adviser
Despite their claims that congress wasn’t consulted in advance of the latest U.S. aggressive moves against Iran. Democrats are in many ways complicit.
For one thing, they passed on chances to constrain military aggression against Iran in the recent Pentagon budget debate. Only 41 House Democrats, voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increased the Pentagon budget by $22 billion, including billions for Trump’s bogus Space Force. The final vote was 377-48. Democrats voted overwhelmingly for passage without any restrictions on the use of funds in a war with Iran.
One of the omitted amendments in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), would have barred Trump from using federal dollars for military action against Iran without congressional approval. Although the measure was included in an earlier draft of the NDAA, it was later stripped out in the compromise version that Democrats voted for anyway.
Khanna, one of the members who vocally opposed the NDAA in December, argued that his amendment would have prevented the US from using government funds to conduct the strike against Soleimani. Whether his claim is real or not remains a question, given Trump’s potential for ignoring Congress and violating the Constitution.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) also sought to include an amendment in the NDAA that would limit the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF), which permits the president to take action against anyone responsible for or associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arguing that it was too broad. Administrations have since used the AUMF to wage military action across the Middle East, efforts that have been seen as further expanding the executive branch’s war powers.
More than 30 progressive and anti-war organizations — including MoveOn and Indivisible — expressed disagreement with the bill, too. “It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of US foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump,” they wrote in their December statement.
On Sunday, Trump warned Iranian leaders against any military retaliation by boasting on Twitter that,
“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment” and that if necessary he would use it to hit Iran “very fast and very hard.”
The $1.4 trillion spending deal for 2020 that became law in December includes about $695 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of about $19 billion from the 2019 level.
But Democrats still have a chance to redeem themselves in an effort to prevent all-out war with Iran by supporting a House bill introduced by Lee and Rep. Ilhan Omar and a Senate bill sponsored by Khanna and Bernie Sanders that would block funding for any military action “in or against Iran” without congressional authorization.
We should be watching closely and taking names on who votes which way.
🚨@SpeakerPelosi announced: This week, the House will vote on a #WarPowers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. pic.twitter.com/gBH6WOy07A
— Christine Pelosi (@sfpelosi) January 6, 2020
.@RepBarbaraLee and I are introducing a War Powers Resolution in the House to prevent a disastrous war with Iran.
We in Congress must reassert our Constitutional authority and stop a disastrous war.
The stakes could not be higher.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) January 5, 2020