February 13, 2020
War Powers Act resolution upholding Congress’s sole constitutional power to declare war passed the Senate with 55-45 bipartisan vote
VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX19Q_IcCts
WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and author of the Prevention of Unconstitutional War Act of 2019, hailed the bipartisan Senate vote passing a War Powers Act resolution to halt the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran in a press conference with fellow Senate Democrats. The resolution passed in a 55-45 vote following President Trump’s January order to launch a military airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and risked igniting another endless war in the Middle East.
The resolution (S.J. Res. 68) reaffirms Congress’s role as the sole branch of government with the power to declare war under the U.S. Constitution and requires the Trump administration to terminate any hostilities from the U.S. armed forces against Iran or Iranian military forces without congressional authorization. A similar House resolution (H.Con.Res. 83), sponsored by U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), passed the House on January 9 by with a bipartisan vote of 224-194.
“Military families want to know, when their children are out there on the line, that the U.S. government is fully behind them,” Udall said during a press conference with fellow Senate Democrats following the bipartisan vote.
“Today is a good day for the Senate. We stood up for the Constitution, and for the balance of powers in a bipartisan way,” Udall continued. “That’s a big deal, and it’s pretty rare around here when it comes to these big constitutional issues.”
“Some people may be asking, ‘why now?’ when the situation has diffused somewhat,” Udall said. “The answer is this— under this president and his administration, we know we will be on the brink of war again. They’re doubling down on the failed maximum pressure campaign. And this president is newly emboldened – he thinks he can do anything he wants under Article II—he keeps saying that and repeating it over and over again— so it is absolutely necessary to act now, before it’s too late. And I’m glad we did. The message we sent today is unequivocal. And make no mistake – this message is critical at this moment in time. We’re telling the president: Congress has not signed off on a war with Iran. And the American people do not support it.”
“Our troops and their families deserve a Congress that takes the hard votes to determine whether we put them into harm’s way,” Udall concluded. “We can’t stop here, though. Congress has so much more work to do to reassert our authority, and to take back the power we’ve ceded to the executive branch.”
Udall has long championed defending congressional war powers. Last June, Udall authored a bipartisan amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent unconstitutional war with Iran. The amendment earned bipartisan support during the Senate’s debate on the NDAA. His bipartisan legislation (S. 1039) to block funding for hostilities with Iran without specific Congressional authorization, originally introduced in 2018, was re-introduced in April 2019 and has 27 cosponsors. The House has passed a Iran war funding prohibition similar to the Udall bill two times—both as an amendment to the FY2020 NDAA on July 12, 2019 and again on January 30, 2020.
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