Colorado Democrats vote to restrict Trump’s war powers; Colorado Republicans vote not to

Nonbinding resolution orders Trump not to act unless an attack is imminent

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Washington, D.C.-, January 10, 2020 | comments

Coloradans in Congress were divided along party lines Thursday when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to attack Iran.

By a vote of 224-194, the House approved a resolution ordering Trump not to further attack Iran or its military until Congress has declared war or there is “an imminent armed attack” planned against the United States. Colorado’s four House Democrats voted in favor and its three House Republicans voted against.

“Do not believe the fear-mongering. This resolution does nothing to prevent the president from protecting the nation against imminent threats,” said Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat and Iraq War veteran, on the House floor before the vote.

“I will fight to ensure that we are having a discussion about when to send our men and women, our sons and daughters, and our sisters and brothers into harm’s way. It is time to have this debate.”

Thursday’s vote follows more than a week of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran that included an attack on a U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and an Iranian missile attack on Iraqi military bases where Americans were stationed.

Democrats have criticized Trump for escalating tensions and increasing the possibility of a new war in the Middle East. Republicans have largely defended the president’s actions in Iraq as necessary and prudent. Several blame former President Barack Obama for Iran’s aggression.

“During the Obama administration, we sent Iran 1.8 billion dead presidents,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, referring to money transferred to Iran to settle a decades-long dispute. “Donald Trump is sending them dead generals. The world is safer because of (Trump’s) decisive action.”

“I’m proud we finally have a president who will stand up to designated terrorists like Soleimani,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Wednesday. “I hope there is no more bloodshed and we should always try to de-escalate, but Iran needs to understand there is a price to pay for supplying terrorists and destabilizing the world.”

Thursday’s vote occurred the same day that American and European governments concluded Iran likely shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing everyone on board.

“Iran, a well-known sponsor of terrorism, shot down a civilian-filled aircraft this week, killing 176 people,” said Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, before Thursday’s vote. “House Democrats would rather quibble with (Trump) than protect the world from this evil.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, a freshman Democrat from Lafayette, spoke Thursday morning with three middle school students in Boulder who were concerned about the possibility of war with Iran. That afternoon, he voted to limit the president’s power to wage such a war.

“The president’s decision to kill a top Iranian general was reckless and irresponsible,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat. “It has brought us to the brink of war, which no one wants. We must de-escalate tensions immediately.”

Before it was voted on Thursday, the resolution was approved by the House Rules Committee late Wednesday. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat and committee member, supported it there as well.

“I think the Congress is derelict in its duties if we don’t say, ‘You’ve got to come to us before you maintain hostilities against another nation.’ That may be eighth-grade civics and we’re just repeating what the Constitution says, but I think we have to,” Perlmutter said during the committee debate.

The resolution’s prospects in the GOP-controlled Senate are unclear. Two libertarian-leaning Republicans, frustrated by a briefing from national security officials, have said they would support a war powers resolution. But more Republican support is needed for passage.

“The administration’s action with regard to Qassem Soleimani was not only decisive, but necessary and legal under longstanding presidential authority to protect American lives from imminent attack,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, on the Senate floor Thursday.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat running for president, said the House sent Trump an important message Thursday: “Congress will not stand idly by as he makes one reckless foreign policy decision after another.” Bennet urged the Senate to send the same message.

Content originally published by The Denver Post on January 10, 2020.
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