Additional Information on the Federal Legislative Agenda, 116th Congress (2019-2020)
Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran – YES
H.R.550 was introduced to the House in January 2019 by Rep. Garamendi [D-CA-3]. The “No War Against Iran Act” prohibits funds for any use of force against Iran unless Congress has either declared war and enacted authorization for such use. The bill further states that no prior AUMFs may be construed to authorize the use of military force against Iran, and repeals the AUMF against Iraq Resolution of 2002. An exception is provided for when there is a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States. The bill passed the House with all MA Representatives voting Yea. Read this press release from Rep. Garamendi following the bill’s passage in the House.
H.R.2354 is sponsored by Representative Eshoo [D-CA-18]. This bill prohibits funds being used in active military operations in Iran unless there is an imminent threat and Congress authorizes the use of force against Iran. This bill does not prohibit the use of ‘non-kinetic’ military operations, such as cyberwarfare or latent operations. The Senate’s equivalent, S.1039, is sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. In the language of this text, there are reminders of the Founding Fathers desire to have Congress be the sole authority capable of declaring war as well as the limitations that are placed on the President when he exercises his role as Commander-in-Chief, “[t]he constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
These bills are, respectively, cosponsored by Representative McGovern and Pressley as well as Senators Markey and Warren. Here is the press release by Representative Eshoo for H.R.2354 and this is the press release from Senator Feinstein following her sponsorship of the resolution.
In 2020 several new bills intended to prevent U.S. military action against Iran were introduced in both the House and the Senate. These include the following:
S.3159 “No War Against Iran Act” was introduced by Sen. Sanders [I-VT] and found immediate support from Senators Warren and Markey. Companion legislation H.R.5543 by Rep. Khanna [D-CA-17], which again prohibits the use of funds for unauthorized military force against Iran. This legislation is cosponsored by MA Reps. McGovern, Kennedy, Clark, Moulton, and Pressley. Read the press release on the legislation introduced from Sanders and Khanna here.
H.Con.Res.83 (sponsored by Rep. Slotkin [D-MI-8]) and S.J.Res.68 (sponsored by Sen. Kaine [D-VA]) both serve to direct the President to terminate the use of USAF for hostilities against Iran unless explicitly authorized by Congress. H.Con.Res.83 found unanimous support among MA representatives with all cosponsoring and voting Yea on the bill which saw it pass the House 224-194. Meanwhile, S.J.Res.68 was cosponsored by both MA Senators Warren and Markey, and initially proceeded to the House after a 55-45 vote. The House supported that legislation 227-186 with all MA reps voting Yea and it proceeded to the President’s desk. Unfortunately, President Trump vetoed the legislation and not enough support was achieved to override that veto on a later vote of 49-44. Warren and Markey voted Yea on both votes. Read Rep. Slotkin’s press release on the legislation here and statement on its veto here.
S.3314 “Iran Diplomacy Act of 2020” introduced by Sen. Markey serves to ease tensions between the United States and Iran. The bill serves several purposes, seeking a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, an address of Iran’s destabilizing regional activities, a return to compliance with its human rights obligations, and the creation of an environment fostering humanitarian trade with Iran. This legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Warren. Read Sen. Markey’s press release here.
Clarification that Congress Has Not Provided Authorization for Military Force Against Iran – YES
H.R.2829 is a bill sponsored by Representative Levin [D-MI-9] and cosponsored by several Massachusetts’ Representatives. The bill states findings that al-Qaeda views Iran as a hostile force to their agenda so therefore the 2001 authorization of force is not an acceptable excuse for a declaration of war against Iran. H.R.2829 also provides clarification that Congress has not authorized the use of military force against Iran and that only Congress has the power to declare war. Here is the press release from Representative Levin’s office on his sponsorship of the bill. This bill is cosponsored by Representatives McGovern, Pressley and Keating. Here is a page with more background infomation on Iran and the US-Iran relationship.
Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal – YES
H.Res.495 is sponsored by Rep. Lee [D-CA-13] and expresses the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the prevention of Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon. It calls for the United States to return to JCPOA and resume its obligations under the agreement, while also calling for the Trump administration to ease regional tensions. MA Reps. McGovern and Pressley cosponsored this legislation. H.Res.495 complements Senator Markey’s S.3314 legislation mentioned above.
Letter on Iran Arms Embargo – NO
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 4 2020, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of House members called on the Trump administration to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran which is set to expire in October of this year. The letter describes that permitting Iran to buy and sell weapons would pose a grave risk to security and stability around the world. MA Reps. McGovern, Clark, Kennedy, Neal, Trahan, Lynch, Keating, and Moulton all signed this letter, while Rep. Pressley did not join, in MAPA’s view standing firm for an independent peace policy. The text of the letter can be found here, and MAPA’s response here.
Letter on Lifting Iran Sanctions Due to COVID-19 – YES
On Tuesday March 31 2020, Sen. Sanders [I-VT], Rep. Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY-14], and Rep. Omar [D-MN-5] led nearly three dozen lawmakers in urging the Trump Administration to ease sanctions against Iran, as the country suffers from a major humanitarian crisis triggered by COVID-19. The letter comes just two weeks after the Trump Administration levied additional sanctions against Iran in the midst of the pandemic. MA Reps. McGovern and Pressley, along with Senators Warren and Markey, added their support to the letter. A press release on the matter can be read here and the text of the letter here.
Here are some articles with updates on and background explaining the conflict:
Prevent War with Iran: a Peace Action Policy Briefing
“Is There a Way Out of the Iran-US Crisis?” by Marwan Kabalan
Updated August 6th, 2020