In a little noticed but potentially monumental development, the House of Representatives voted unanimously for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5515) that says no statute authorizes the use of military force against Iran.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), states,
“It is the sense of Congress that the use of the Armed Forces against Iran is not authorized by this Act or any other Act.”
A bipartisan majority of the House adopted the National Defense Authorization Act on May 24, with a vote of 351-66. The bill now moves to the Senate.
If the Senate version ultimately includes the Ellison amendment as well, Congress would send a clear message to Donald Trump that he has no statutory authority to militarily attack Iran.
This becomes particularly significant in light of Trump’s May 8 withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. That withdrawal was followed by a long list of demands by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which could set the stage for a US attack on Iran.