DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable Ro Khanna
Sent By:
Geo.Saba@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Cosponsor H.R. 5543: No War Against Iran Act

Cosponsors (95): Allred, Barragan, Beyer, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Brown, Brownley, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Clarke, Cohen, Cooper, Crow, Davis (IL), Dean, DeFazio, DeGette, DeLauro, Deutch, DeSaulnier, Doggett, Escobar, Engel, Espaillat, Evans,
Gallego, Garamendi, Chuy García, Green, Grijalva, Haaland, Himes, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jayapal, Jeffries, Hank Johnson, Kennedy, Kilmer, Larsen, Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Maloney, McCollum, McGovern, McNearny,
Moore, Moulton, Neguse, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pallone, Pascrell, Phillips, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Price, Raskin, Rose, Ruppesberger, Rush, Sanchez, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Schiff, Serrano, Adam Smith, Soto, Spanberger, Speier,
Takano, Thompson, Tlaib, Tonko, Trone, Vela, Velázquez, Waters, Watson Coleman, Welch, Yarmuth  

Senator Sanders’ Companion Bill is S. 3159. Co-sponsors: Schumer, Leahy, Markey, Wyden, Gillibrand, Baldwin, Cantwell, Warren, Van Hollen, Harris, Blumenthal, Merkley, and
Lee.

Supporting groups: American Friends Service Committee; Churches for Middle East Peace; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Council for a Livable World; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Global Ministries of the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ; Indivisible; International Crisis Group; J Street; NIAC Action; Ploughshares Fund; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; Win Without War

Dear Colleague,

In light of the latest military strikes by the United States and Iran in Iraq, it is up to Congress to prevent another costly war in the Middle East. For too long, Congress has ceded its responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government when it comes to
matters of war and peace. As the New York Times has put it, “it is long past time that the legislative branch reclaimed its central role in overseeing war waged in the name of the American people.”

The Constitution and the War Powers Resolution make it clear that the President must come to Congress before taking America to war against another country. Iran is no exception. 

This text matches the bipartisan FY2020 NDAA Amendment #423 that passed the House 251-170 on July 12th 2019 and had 87 cosponsors.

This bill would prevent any funds from being used for military force against Iran unless legislation is passed to authorize such military action. It also clarifies that Congress has not already authorized the use of force against Iran, specifically indicating
that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs do not authorize war with Iran. (See one-pager below for more info about the bill.)

Please add your name in support of this bill to block funding for a war against Iran. If you have additional questions, please contact Geo Saba at
geo.saba@mail.house.gov in my office.

Sincerely,

Ro Khanna
Member of Congress 

H.R. 5543, The No War Against Iran Act would:

· Clarify that Congress has not authorized force against Iran; and
· Use Congress’ funding power to enforce the congressional authorization requirements from the War Powers Resolution (WPR). These requirements allow the President to defend America and U.S. forces overseas but require congressional authorization for attacks
that are not based on self-defense.

This is an effective way to prevent an unauthorized use of force against Iran.
Given how Presidents from both parties have circumvented congressional authorization requirements in the WPR, passage of this bill is important to back up the WPR with funding restrictions.

Congress has done this before. For example, in 1983 Congress enforced the WPR by prohibiting the President from using Defense Department funding to overthrow the Government of Nicaragua.

This would not prevent the President from acting in self-defense.
The President always maintains a legal right to use necessary and proportionate force to defend America and U.S. forces. This Bill explicitly exempts the defensive actions described in the WPR. Presidents generally do not view funding restrictions as prohibiting
their defensive powers under Article II of the Constitution.

This would not prevent Congress from authorizing force. The bill only prohibits the President from acting unilaterally. Congress could authorize military force against Iran at any time.

This would not prevent America from defending allies. The WPR explicitly states that Congress is responsible for authorizing force to defend partners and allies, even in the case of treaties. This bill makes clear that the President
can defend partners and allies if Congress enacts authorization, as current law requires. The President may also provide significant support to partners and allies short of military force.

Legal Background:

Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive authority to declare war. Article II is often interpreted to give the President the right to defend America and U.S. forces from attack without prior congressional approval. Presidents of both parties
have also asserted a right to use unauthorized force to advance “national interests” if other limiting factors are met and Congress has not prohibited the President from using funds for that purpose.

Congress enacted the WPR in 1973 to constrain the President’s unilateral use of force. It does not authorize the President to use force. Instead, it codifies the understanding that the Constitution allows the President to use force without prior congressional
authorization in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” It requires the President to terminate any unauthorized use of force after 60 days (with 30 additional days for withdrawal),
and it provides congressional procedures for enacting authorizations for use of military force (AUMFs).

 Most recently, Congress enacted the 2001 AUMF in response to 9/11 and the 2002 AUMF for the Iraq War. The 2001 AUMF authorizes force against the entities responsible for 9/11 and the entities that harbored them, including al Qaeda and the Taliban. The administration
has sought to identify links between al Qaeda and Iran to argue that the 2001 AUMF could be used against Iran. Legal and policy experts have widely rejected the accuracy of this argument, and the administration has not justified its claims.

Additional legal background and recommendations: https://www.justsecurity.org/64645/top-expertsbackgrounder-military-action-against-iran-and-us-domestic-law/

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence

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