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U.S. airstrikes fuel congressional debate over war powers




Top Democrats defended the military action of the Biden administration, saying the strikes on Sunday appeared to be justified and in response to a specific threat. But some Democrats also expressed concern that the strikes were more than a one-off episode, as militia groups continue to target U.S. personnel and facilities. using an unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on Iraq, that is, Congress should authorize U.S. military action.
The rockets landed at a U.S. military base in eastern Syria on On Monday, a day after U.S. military action, according to a U.S. defense official, who said it was “likely” that the rockets would be launched by Iranian-backed militias, has not been determined. origin of the rockets.
The airstrikes come after the House passed legislation earlier this month which repeals the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to pass similar legislation next month, and the Biden administration has said it supports the repeal, arguing that the 2002 permit is no longer used for any military operation.

In fact, the Biden administration did not cite any military force approval approved by Congress in its legal justification for airstrikes, saying the military action was carried out under Article II authority. from the President to the Constitution to defend the country from imminent threats.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat on the Foreign Affairs panel, said Sunday he trusted the “national security instincts” of the Biden White House.

“My concern is that the pace of activity targeting U.S. forces and repeated strikes in retaliation against Iranian power forces are beginning to look like what would be described as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act.” Murphy said in a statement. “Both the Constitution and the Powers of War Act require the president to come to Congress to make a declaration of war in these circumstances.”

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who has long pushed for greater oversight of Congress over military action abroad, said Monday the strikes appeared to be under a “classic Article II defense.” But he added that if the conflict heated up, he would agree with Murphy, who would require a larger Congressional role and potential authorization.

Sunday’s airstrikes were not the first time the Biden administration has taken military action against Iran-backed military groups. In February, the The United States attacked a site in Syria used by two militia groups in response to rockets against American forces in the region.
These airstrikes provoked a first explosion of activity in Congress among lawmakers who have tried in recent years to curb the war powers of the Executive Branch, in the hope that Biden’s long career in the Senate would give them a partner in the White House instead of an opponent. In addition to authorizing the 2002 Iraq war, Kaine and other lawmakers are seeking to rewrite the extensive 2001 authorization for the use of military force that has been used as a legal justification for U.S. military action around the world for nearly two decades.

Kaine, who has co-authored Senate legislation to revoke the 2002 Iraq war authorization with Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, argued that the fact that it was not invoked is evidence that Congress should remove it from the books.

“I don’t think you see a warning coming in and the White House saying,‘ We trust the 2002 Iraq (authorization), ’” Kaine said.

But Republican foreign policy hawks opposed Congress revoking the 2002 authorization because it limits the ability of the executive branch to respond to terrorist threats, arguing that recent U.S. military action shows that the United States remains involved in Iraq and that they should not voluntarily revoke authority without any replacement.

“While I congratulate President Biden’s defensive strike on the facilities of the representatives in Syria and Iraq, I believe that these actions are over and I highlight the continued need for the 2002 AUMF, or at least , the need for a comprehensive replacement before it can be repealed keep in mind, especially given that militias backed by Iran in Iraq are a continuing threat to U.S. troops, “he said. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden believed the airstrikes were “necessary, appropriate and deliberate,” adding that the administration relied on its legal authority under the powers of Article II of the President.

Lawmakers from several committees said they hoped to receive detailed information about the airstrikes, including the legal justification for them and the intelligence that led to the military action.

“Based on what I’ve learned so far, I think it was an appropriate and reasonable use of force for defensive purposes,” said House Intelligence President Adam Schiff, who has requested a committee meeting at the Pentagon. “The Intelligence Committee will closely review the bases of this strike, including an assessment of whether this action will really deter or prevent attacks by these militias through UAVs and other means.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Sunday that Congress “looks forward to receiving and reviewing the formal notification of this operation under the War Powers Act and receiving additional information from the administration.”

Senate Foreign Secretary Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who last week granted a request from Republicans to hear from the Biden administration about revoking the authorization of the 2002 Iraq war before of voting to revoke it, he said he hoped administration officials would report to the committee on airstrikes, as well as a broader discussion on the 2002 war authorization.

“I will seek more information from the administration in the coming days about what was specifically based on these strikes, the imminent threats they believed were acting and more details about the legal authority on which the administration was based,” Menendez said. .

CNN’s Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.