WASHINGTON — Like him orders airstrikes In the escalating Middle East conflict, President Joe Biden is facing new demands to ask Congress to vote on a new authorization for military action before proceeding any further.
However, those calls have fallen on deaf ears, with the White House insisting that the commander-in-chief had already authorized the strikes after two authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) votes more than 20 years ago. September 11 attacks.
This month, Biden ordered airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea. Militia groups connected to Iran Attackers on US personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria.
And then a Drone attack in Jordan was killed three US servicemen and Biden, who wounded more than 30 people over the weekend, vowed to retaliate against the Iran-backed militants he said carried out the brazen attack.
“We will respond,” Biden said.
House and Senate lawmakers will receive a series of classified briefings this week on the deadly attack. But Biden’s inauguration comes days later, with a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to To him urges the president to appear before Congress before initiating any further military action.
Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Todd Young, R-Ind., Chris Murphy, D-Conn. and Rep. Mike Lee, R-Utah, condemned the Houthi attacks and blamed the group and their supporters. “It is Iran that has aggravated the situation in the Middle East.” But they noted that “unless there is a need to repel a surprise attack, the Constitution requires the United States not to initiate military operations without the affirmative vote of Congress.”
“We have long advocated for congressional due process and authorization for decisions that harm the military overseas,” the senators said. “Currently, the US does not have the authorization of the Congress for the offensive military operation against the Houthis.”
Speaking to reporters last week, Lee lamented that Biden and other recent presidents have carried out a series of military strikes under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs written for the Iraq and Gulf wars. Last March, the Senate voted 66-30 to repeal the 2002 and 1991 AUMFs, but the legislation stalled in the House.
“There are still questions that need to be answered. I want to know what is the source of authority. The ’01 and ’02 AUMFs have been used like a Swiss army knife for every conflict out there,” Lee said.
Across the Capitol, a group of about 30 House lawmakers, including some of the most liberal and some of the most conservative He sent a separate letter to Biden Questions the constitutionality of airstrikes against the Houthis and calls for the president to appear before Congress before launching additional strikes.
“As representatives of the American people, Congress must engage in vigorous debate before American military personnel are harmed and more U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent on another war in the Middle East,” the group of lawmakers, which includes House liberals, wrote. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. and conservative representatives. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
“No president, regardless of political party, has the constitutional authority to override Congress on war issues,” the group writes.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., one of Biden’s key progressive allies, organized the letter. In an interview earlier this month, Khanna expressed disbelief that the White House had not come to Congress when they had been planning retaliatory strikes against the Houthis for weeks.
“This has been going on since December,” Khanna said. “They talked to foreign leaders and coordinated the whole international campaign, and you don’t come to Congress to see if this is something that Congress will support?”
In a recent letter to congressional leaders, Biden explained that he had ordered strikes against the militia group responsible for attacks on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and US personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria on January 23. It said it did so “in accordance with the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs” and “to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad.”
“The United States took this necessary and proportionate action, exercising the United States’ inherent right of self-defense under international law and under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” Biden wrote to the leaders. “The United States is prepared to take additional measures as necessary and appropriate to respond to future threats or attacks.”
While facing criticism from war-weary liberals and conservatives, Biden has also been blamed by some for not being tough enough on Iran. Biden’s former colleague in the upper chamber, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, argued in a speech last week that while Congress “must hold tight to the power of the purse … this is not the time for 535 commanders.” head dictating battle tactics from around the world.
In a statement about the military deaths on Sunday, McConnell argued that the Constitution gave Biden “clear authority to use military force when American lives and interests are under attack.”
But in the same breath, McConnell accused the president of “not using enough” the powers he currently has and criticized his strategy for the region.
“The cost of failing to deter America’s enemies has once again been measured in American lives. We cannot continue to respond to this violent aggression with hesitation and half-hearted actions,” McConnell said.
“The whole world is now watching for signs that the president is finally ready to use American power to force Iran to change its behavior,” he continued.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat who represents the Virgin Islands and serves on the Intelligence Committee, also defended Biden’s use of military force.
“I can’t see the president coming to us every time there’s an attack on Americans in the world,” Plaskett said in an interview Monday before the military was briefed on the attack. “But of course he has the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the Department of Defense who are accountable to the appropriate committees, and I’m sure they do.”