Top Defense Legislators Affirm: No Existing Authorization for Use of Force Against Iran

July 24, 2018

J Street welcomes Congress’ top defense legislators clearly stating that there is no existing statutory authority for the use of military force against Iran.

Conferees finalizing the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a statement in the bill that nothing in the legislation may be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran. They also included language in the accompanying report which stated that, “At the time of the signing of this report, the conferees are not aware of any information that would justify the use of military force against Iran under any other statutory authority.”

This unambiguous declaration could not be more timely or essential given President Trump’s irresponsible and unhinged all-caps tweet threatening Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered.” It is heartening to see Congress begin to step forward and restrain the president’s bellicose tendencies as his administration pursues reckless policies that risk placing the nation on a path to a new military confrontation in the Middle East. Since the president’s decision to abrogate the agreement blocking each of Iran’s paths to nuclear weapon, and again following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s issuing of maximalist ultimatums to Iran, J Street has called on Congress to live up to its constitutional responsibility to act as a check on the president — and to restrain his ability to plunge our country into another costly and bloody war of choice.

This important move by NDAA conferees follows the House of Representatives’ unanimous adoption in May of a bipartisan amendment containing similar language led by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC).

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