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Monday, 04 March 2024
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US House votes to curb Trump war power on Iran
US President Donald Trump said he will designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups for their role in trafficking narcotics. (File photo AFP)

US lawmakers concerned about rushing to war with Iran adopted a measure Thursday aimed at reining in President Donald Trump's ability to take military action against the Islamic republic.


The resolution was introduced by Democrats after Trump's order to kill an Iranian commander and retaliatory missile strikes by Tehran dramatically escalated tensions and raised fears of a devastating war between the two foes.


The mostly symbolic but politically charged vote, 224 to 194, was largely along party lines, with three members of Trump's Republican Party joining Democrats in approving the measure demanding the president not engage in military action against Iran unless authorized by Congress.


Among them was Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's staunchest supporters in Congress who noted in a floor speech that the measure did not criticize Trump, but said that "engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision."


"If the members of our armed services have the courage to go and fight and die in these wars, as Congress we ought to have the courage to vote for them or against them," Gaetz said.


As lawmakers launched a scalding day-long debate over presidential authority, Trump insisted he needs no one's blessing to launch attacks, essentially scorning existing legal requirements for consulting with Congress.


"I don't have to," Trump said when asked whether he would seek congressional approval for more military action against Iran.


"And you shouldn't have to," he added, "because you have to make split-second decisions sometimes."


Trump signaled Wednesday he was stepping back from the brink of war with Iran after a US drone strike that killed commander Qasem Soleimani was followed by Iranian missile volleys against bases housing American forces in Iraq.


But on Thursday he fought back against criticism that he'd ordered the killing, risking all-out conflict, without real justification.


At a reelection campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, Trump insisted, without providing any evidence, that Soleimani was "actively planning new attacks," including against US embassies, "and we stopped him cold."


He ridiculed his Democratic opponents in Congress, calling them insulting names and claimed that if he had consulted with them they would have leaked the secret operation to the "fake news."


"You should get permission from Congress," he said mockingly to mimic the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.


The House measure was introduced as a concurrent resolution, a form of legislation that does not carry the weight of law. But as a political instrument it could serve as a rebuke to Trump's foreign policy.


Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy blasted Pelosi's effort as a "show vote" because it cannot become law and will therefore "never limit (Trump's) constitutional authority to defend the American people."