Virginia House members on War Powers Resolution

(© W. Scott McGill –

The House voted Thursday to approve a resolution directing President Trump to terminate the use of United States armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran introduced by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.).

Statement from Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va.

“The resolution we passed today is an important first step to preventing a reckless President from taking us to war with Iran.

“I listened to the President, I have been briefed by his top national security officials, and I have tried to follow the shifting justifications for the killing that led to this crisis. Nothing they’ve said has given me the slightest bit of confidence that this president or his advisers have a coherent strategy for what comes next. While I am glad to see both sides apparently seeking de-escalation of the conflict, Congress has a duty to act now to stop any further slide towards military confrontation.<

“The Constitution clearly vests the power to declare war with the Congress. I support additional measures to reassert Congress’ clear responsibility for authorizing war powers, including repealing the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), legislation to block funding for war against Iran, and legislation to strengthen the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

“My constituents do not support war with Iran, and neither do I.”

Statement from Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va.

“Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers and thousands of civilians around the world. Even though this resolution to limit the war powers of the President is not binding, it is reckless to hinder his ability to use force against an enemy who attacked U.S. interests only two days ago. Not only does this resolution jeopardize our national security, but it also puts our troops and our allies in harm’s way moving forward. Instead of a debate about the question of the separation of powers, H. Con. Res. 83 condemns the President’s appropriate reasoned response to Iranian aggression. While only Congress can declare war, it is wholly necessary for the President to be able to respond in a swift manner to defend American interests and our men and women in uniform.”

Statement from Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.

“Whether or not to wage war is a matter of the greatest significance to our country. It should fall to the people’s representatives in Congress to debate and decide, as the Constitution dictates.

“Unfortunately, the War Powers Resolution introduced by Democrats does not do justice to the topic. Speaker Pelosi and the majority on the Rules Committee did not allow amendments and limited debate. The resolution is apparently more about denigrating President Trump than fulfilling the constitutional responsibility of Congress.

“I still believe that Congress must assert our proper role in questions of war and peace, and that revisiting the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force is long overdue. This concurrent resolution does not even come close to doing that.”

Statement from Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va.

“Under the Constitution, only Congress has the authority and power to declare war, a responsibility I take seriously,” Congresswoman Luria said. “However, this resolution does not solve the larger problem at hand—which is that we are operating under a nearly two decade-old Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). I voted against this resolution because if we must commit our forces to sustained combat operations to protect our nation, Congress has the duty to take on the more urgent task of debating a new AUMF.”

Statement from Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va.

“The president’s briefing yesterday left more questions than answers, but made one thing crystal clear – he has no plan to keep the American people safe, achieve de-escalation with Iran or ensure stability in the region.

“The decision to use military force is one of Congress’ greatest responsibilities, and the American people deserve careful consideration and thoughtful decision-making before deciding to take our nation into armed conflict. The War Powers Resolution my colleagues and I passed today, in keeping with Congress’ long-established oversight responsibilities, mandates that if the president wants take us to war, he must get authorization from Congress.

“Sacrifices made by American servicemembers and their families are too costly to act without the highest level of safety, security, and consideration. The American people, especially our servicemembers, military families, and diplomats, deserve better.”

Statement from Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.

“Today, I voted to affirm that the United States has the inherent right to act in self-defense and that the Executive Branch can engage our Armed Forces as ‘necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces.’

“I also voted to affirm that the authority and responsibility to make war is a solemn duty that constitutionally rests with Members of the U.S. Congress, the people who were elected to represent both those who go off to war and their families—those who bear the burden, risks, and loss of the choices we make. As we face ever-changing tensions and military engagements with Iran—a foreign adversary nation and state sponsor of terrorism—affirming this constitutional responsibility of Congress is important, but it is not nearly enough.

“We have been at war in the Middle East under authorities debated and voted on nearly two decades ago. We have seen men and women fighting and dying under authorities voted on half a generation ago. These authorities have been abused and contorted by successive administrations—Republican and Democratic alike. We have seen some Members of Congress call out the misdeeds of the opposing party’s president, but remain silent when their own party’s president took liberties overstepping Congress and stretching these Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to engage in hostilities a continent away from the original target, half a generation later.

“Today’s vote does not change that, and today’s vote is not enough; it is merely a first step. At a time when hyper-partisanship is plaguing our country and our Congress, the most solemn of our responsibilities—to deliberate on and authorize war—is one we should fight to keep from the clutches of partisan hackery. We should fiercely debate, fight, and disagree, but we should do so based on what is in the best interest of our nation, our national security, and the men and women fighting to keep us safe.

“In the face of the evolving situation with Iran, I thank our nation’s intelligence services, diplomatic corps, servicemembers, military leaders, and our Commander-in-Chief for working toward de-escalation after a week of heightened tensions. I also thank my colleagues across the political spectrum who have demonstrated principled consistency in their work to assert Congress’ constitutional responsibility to discuss, debate, and vote on AUMFs over their tenures in Congress.

“Over the past few days, I have had conversations with Members from across the political spectrum—from the most conservative Members to the most liberal Members—about the best path forward to ensure we are doing our jobs to keep Americans safe, end endless wars, and protect the balance of Constitutional powers. If Congress passes this resolution but takes no further action, we will have failed in reasserting this Congressional authority under Article I of the Constitution.”

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