January 30, 2020 / 7:49 PM / 23 days ago

U.S. House passes measures seeking to pull war powers back from Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation on Thursday seeking to rein in President Donald Trump’s ability to deploy U.S. forces to fight abroad, as some lawmakers fume over his failure to fully inform them about his strategy toward Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs Washington for travel to Michigan at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Democratic-led House voted nearly along party lines to pass one measure that would prohibit military action against Iran without congressional approval. It also voted to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the use of Military Force for the war in Iraq, which presidents have long used to justify a range of military actions.

“The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war. And with President Trump taking steps toward dangerous conflict with Iran - without any consultation with Congress - we need to reassert the responsibility given to us,” Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in support of the legislation.

The vote for the first measure was 228 to 175, as four of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats in backing the bill and three Democrats joined most Republicans in voting no.

The vote for the second was 236 to 166, with 11 Republicans voting yea and two Democrats voting nay.

The future of the legislation was uncertain in the Republican-led Senate, where an effort to pass an Iran-related war powers resolution has been stalled during Trump’s impeachment trial.

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to express opposition,

“With Votes in the House tomorrow, Democrats want to make it harder for Presidents to defend America, and stand up to, as an example, Iran. Protect our GREAT COUNTRY!” he wrote.

Many members of Congress, including some Republicans, have been pushing the administration for more information about the killing this month of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport.

Trump did not inform Congress about the drone strike until after it took place and then, according to many lawmakers, his administration held back too much information about the reason for the strike and its legal justification.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown

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