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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney Votes to Pass War Powers Resolution Reaffirming the President’s Duty to Seek Congressional Authorization Before Entering Into War with Iran

January 9, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted with a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.Con.Res. 83, a resolution that reaffirms the limits imposed on the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The resolution directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran unless Congress authorized them, or their use is necessary to defend against an imminent armed attack on the United States or our armed forces. Congressman Courtney is a co-sponsor of H.Con.Res. 83.

“General Soleimani was brutal military leader and a menace, with the blood of not only Americans, but also thousands and thousands of Iraqis and his fellow Iranians on his hands,” said Congressman Courtney. “What is concerning about this situation is not the death of someone who was obviously engaged in malign behavior across the region, but the cycle of escalation between the U.S. and Iran that risks sliding us into war without the President first consulting with the American people, or seeking lawful authorization from Congress pursuant to Article One of the Constitution.

“I am grateful that the past few days have begun to show signs of a pause in escalation, and even more so that the United States suffered no loss of life in retaliatory attacks by Iran on the Camp Taji military base. But Iran is known for waging attacks and responding to force in ways that are not symmetric, or immediate – and there is still a serious risk of sliding into war. The resolution acknowledges that the President has and should always have the right to respond to imminent threats and to defend our allies when needed, and this resolution will not hinder his ability to do so in any way. But if the President is embarking on another protracted and costly full-scale war in the Middle East, he needs to seek the lawful authorization of Congress to do so.”

H.Con.Res. 83 reiterates that only Congress can declare war. The resolution makes it clear that Congress has not authorized the use of military force against Iran, and that if the President wants to enter the country into a protracted war with Iran, he must seek Congressional authorization. The resolution does not hinder the United States from mounting rapid responses to imminent threats, or from aiding our allies in doing the same.

The resolution would not prevent the President from acting in self-defense. The President always maintains a legal right to use necessary and proportionate force to defend America and U.S. forces. This resolution explicitly exempts the defensive actions described in the WPR.

The resolution would not prevent Congress from authorizing force. This resolution only prohibits the President from acting unilaterally. Congress could authorize military force against Iran at any time.

The resolution would not prevent America from defending its allies. The WPR explicitly states that Congress is responsible for authorizing force to defend partners and allies, even in the case of treaties. This resolution makes clear that the President can defend partners and allies if Congress enacts authorization, as current law requires. The President may also provide significant support to partners and allies short of military force.

The resolution would not impact ongoing operations against ISIS and al Qaeda. This resolution does not prevent the President from using force against al Qaeda or its associated forces, as authorized in the existing 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force.

Congress enacted the WPR in 1973 to constrain the President’s unilateral use of force. It does not authorize the President to use force. Instead, it codifies the understanding that the Constitution allows the President to use force without prior congressional authorization in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” It requires the President to terminate any unauthorized use of force after 60 days (with 30 additional days for withdrawal), and it provides congressional procedures for enacting authorizations for use of military force (AUMFs).

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