New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, the sponsor of a 2019 bill that would eliminate funding for an unauthorized war against Iran, implored his colleagues during a Wednesday floor speech to reassert congressional war powers oversight as the U.S. and Iran move toward armed conflict.
”Congress should act, now that the president has usurped our authority and unilaterally taken us down this path of conflict with Iran,” Udall said in his remarks. “Congress has finally been briefed. And the president has not supplied convincing evidence that his strike stopped an imminent attack on U.S. forces. Nothing we’ve seen has changed my mind.
”And worse, the strike risked more American deaths and greater instability than if the president had taken a different course,” he added.
Other New Mexico Democrats in Congress also questioned the Trump administration’s handling of the relationship with Iran a day after ballistic missiles were launched at an Iraqi base that houses U.S. troops. No U.S. troops were killed or injured in the strike.
Sen. Martin Heinrich said President Donald Trump’s remarks after the attack — in which the president said Iran “appears to be standing down” — did little to clarify the administration’s goals in the volatile region. In his speech to the country, Trump suggested the U.S. will pursue economic sanctions, not military force.
“The administration has not outlined a cohesive strategy for Iran,” Heinrich said in an interview Wednesday, adding the president’s unpredictable actions “put a target on the back on Americans in the region.”
Both New Mexico senators are co-sponsors of the Senate version of the War Powers Resolution introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., last week. War powers resolutions are privileged, meaning the Senate will be forced to vote on the measure.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Wednesday the House would vote Thursday morning on a nearly identical resolution requiring the Trump administration to seek congressional approval for using military force in Iran. Rep. Deb Halaand, D-N.M., voiced her support for that measure and limiting funds in a statement.
The Senate resolution “directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military” in the next 30 days unless force is authorized by Congress.
The resolution is expected, staff members said, to come to the floor for a vote in the next few weeks.
Heinrich said the next course of action will be forcing a debate in the Senate and requiring the administration to clarify its tactics.
“What we’re asking for right now is an accurate analysis of their security under the current situation,” Heinrich said.
Other members in the delegation said they support efforts to end further operations against Iran in a conflict that escalated last week when a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said in a statement the Trump administration acted dangerously and recklessly.
“Having been briefed by the administration, it is not clear their intelligence supports the actions taken over the past week,” Luján said. “What remains clear is Congress’ responsibility to prevent an unjustifiable war with Iran and to keep our country secure.”
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., said that while she welcomed Trump outlining the possibility of deescalation, “further questions remain about a long-term strategy and that will require consultation and coordination with Congress.”