NIAC Action Commends Senate on Passage of War Powers Resolution

Ryan Costello, Policy Director for NIAC Action, issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage of the Kaine resolution S.J.Res. 68 guarding against an unauthorized war with Iran in a 55-45 vote:

“President Trump does not have authorization for an Iran war. Sen. Tim Kaine deserves tremendous credit for working across the aisle to clarify that fact today by passing a bipartisan resolution ruling out an unauthorized Iran war. All Senators who supported the resolution and voted against poison pill amendments from those eager to start a war with Iran should be commended. 

“We are concerned by some of the language that was inserted into the resolution today. However, the fundamental message of the resolution – that the President does not have authorization for an Iran war – is clear. Congress has been clear and consistent on that score since last summer when bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate first supported amendments ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. It is particularly meaningful that both chambers of Congress acted once again in the wake of the President taking us to the brink of war in January following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. 

“We urge the Trump administration to recognize that in order to go to war with Iran, they would need to make a convincing case to Congress and the American people. Rather, the administration has lied about its war authorizations and sought to trigger a war through rash and unlawful escalation in the Middle East.

“The work for Congress is not over. We urge the House of Representatives to pass the Kaine resolution and send it on to the President’s desk. Additionally, the Senate should consider and pass the strong Iran war powers legislation passed by the House in recent weeks. The American people do not want a new front in the forever war with Iran. It is the duty of Congress to reflect the aspirations of the American people and protect its Constitutional authorities from being trampled by the President.”

NIAC Action Joins 40+ NGOs in Letter Urging Senators to Vote “Yes” on Kaine War Powers Resolution

February 11, 2020

Dear Senators,

We are a diverse group of national organizations focused on strengthening diplomacy, safeguarding the rule of law, protecting refugees, and promoting human rights and public welfare, and together we represent millions of people and communities across the United States.

We write to urge you to vote “YES” on the war powers resolution sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine (S.J.Res.68) to terminate the unauthorized use of U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities against Iran or any part of its government unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran.

Last month, the House passed its own version of an Iran war powers resolution, as well as additional measures to rein in unilateral action by President Trump for war with Iran and further safeguard the constitutional separation of powers. We urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit and pass legislation that will then be sent back to the House and to Trump’s desk for signature.

The United States has moved to the brink of a major regional war with Iran twice in the last year. Concerningly, the administration has consistently stated that it has the authorization for war with Iran even though Congress has never authorized such action, angering both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Moreover, deep concerns persist regarding the administration’s treatment of intelligence concerning alleged threats from Iran, which has undermined public trust.

By passing S.J.Res.68, the Senate can take an urgent and critical step in uniting with the House in reasserting Congress’s constitutional role in matters of war and peace and reflecting the aspirations of a pro-diplomacy public who unequivocally oppose another catastrophic war of choice.

Sincerely,

About Face: Veterans Against the War
Beyond the Bomb
CAP
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for International Policy
CODEPINK
Common Defense
Council for a Livable World
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
FCNL
Foreign Policy for America
Franciscan Action Network
Freedom Forward Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ Government
Information Watch
Indivisible
Institute for Policy Studies
New Internationalism Project
J Street
Just Foreign Policy
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NIAC Action
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Peace Direct
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Project South
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
Rachel Carson Council
Rethinking Foreign Policy, Inc.
RootsAction.org
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA
Truman National Security Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United for Peace and Justice
VoteVets
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
World BEYOND War

2020 Democrats: Where do the Presidential candidates stand?

NIAC Action has urged all 2020 Presidential candidates to make two key commitments: to return the U.S. into compliance with the Iran nuclear agreement and to repeal the Muslim Ban. 

President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord and inhumane sanctions have undermined U.S. credibility, made America and the world less safe, and brought us to the brink of war. Returning to the international agreement without preconditions is the only sensible way for the United States to reverse the damage, restore Iran’s compliance with far-reaching nuclear concessions and reestablish diplomatic opportunities squandered by President Trump’s dangerous escalations.

President Trump’s Muslim Ban, imposed in his first week in office and still in effect after court-ordered revisions, continues to separate Iranian-American families and institutionalize discrimination against our community. The next president should make it a top priority to reverse this discriminatory, un-American policy on their first day in office in order to undo its continued harm. 

There are many other issues important to the Iranian-American community and pro-peace allies that NIAC Action would like to see Presidential contenders weigh in on, some of which we have directly encouraged the campaigns to comment on. In the tracker, we include some of the top tweets from candidates of interest to our community, including tweets condemning Iran’s brutal November crackdown on protesters; warnings against a march to war; comments on the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani; condemnations of President Trump’s outrageous threat to target Iranian cultural sites; and tweets on deportations of Iranian students and harassment of Iranian Americans at the border.

Joe Biden Mike Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Tulsi Gabbard Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Tom Steyer Elizabeth WarRen Andrew Yang


Biden

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Biden has announced that if Tehran returns to compliance with the nuclear deal, he would do so as well while working to strengthen and extend it. He has also noted that this would enable him to more effectively push back against Iran’s “destabilizing activities.”

  • Foreign Policy Speech on July 11, 2019: “The historic Iran Nuclear Deal we negotiated blocked Iran from gaining nuclear weapons with inspectors on the ground, international inspectors confirming that the agreement was being kept. Yet Trump cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, and raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region. If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, I would rejoin the agreement and work with our allies to strengthen and extend it while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s destabilizing activities which under the agreement we are allowed to do and we had partners to do with us.”
  • Foreign Affairs article on January 23, 2020: “The historic Iran nuclear deal that the Obama-Biden administration negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump rashly cast the deal aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region. I’m under no illusions about the Iranian regime, which has engaged in destabilizing behavior across the Middle East, brutally cracked down on protesters at home, and unjustly detained Americans. But there is a smart way to counter the threat that Iran poses to our interests and a self-defeating way—and Trump has chosen the latter. The recent killing of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, removed a dangerous actor but also raised the prospect of an ever-escalating cycle of violence in the region, and it has prompted Tehran to jettison the nuclear limits established under the nuclear deal. Tehran must return to strict compliance with the deal. If it does so, I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”

✅✅ Vice President Biden’s campaign told NIAC Action staff that he would rescind the ban on Day 1 of his Presidency. Biden also has said that the Muslim Ban “hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool.”

  • Vice President Biden’s immigration plan released on Dec. 11, 2019: He states that he will “Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as ‘Muslim bans.’ The Trump Administration’s anti-Muslim bias hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool. Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. It is yet another abuse of power by the Trump Administration designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants. Biden will immediately rescind the ‘Muslim bans.’”
  • Facebook post on June 26, 2019: “One year ago, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s Muslim ban—one of this administration’s most egregious attacks on our core values. Wielding the politics of fear and intolerance by slandering entire religious communities as complicit in terrorism is wrong, and it’s not who we are.”

  • Jan 2, 2020: “No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing. He deserted to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region…None of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region…”
  • Jan. 10, 2020: “Donald Trump brought us dangerously close to starting a new war with Iran without any semblance of a plan. This moment requires a leader who will be ready on day one to pick up the pieces and repair the damage Trump has caused.”
  • Nov. 23, 2019: “Our hearts go out to the families of Iranian protesters who were killed this past week. Iranians, like people everywhere, have a right to protest peacefully without being brutally attacked by their own government and having the internet shut down for days. The world is watching.”


Bloomberg

Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg’s staff told NIAC Action that he would return to compliance with the JCPOA without preconditions. After rejoining, Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign says he will seek to address “other inadequacies in the deal” in order to make it sustainable:

  • In response to NIAC Action’s question on whether Mayor Bloomberg would return to the JCPOA without preconditions, the Mayor’s staff said: “Yes. Mike was initially against the Iran deal but thinks it was a mistake for President Trump to unilaterally walk away from it. While the agreement was not perfect — it did not address Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and it gave the regime political cover to step up its aggression in the region — the U.S. had an obligation to keep its word once the agreement was in place. The U.S. withdrawal has allowed Iran to abandon its own obligations under the deal, and has left the world with few tools to stop it. The first thing to do is reestablish the coalition that realized the danger of Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon. Collective pressure will be needed to change Iran’s behavior. This should be the starting point for the use of diplomacy. We should also be prepared to employ the leverage that sanctions have provided.”
  • “Next, Iran must come back into compliance with the JCPOA requirements. That will require addressing the advances it is likely to make between now and next year—advances that could shrink its breakout time. After rejoining, in order for any new arrangement to be sustainable, we must also be ready to address other inadequacies in the deal, which include the need to extend fast-approaching sunset clauses, curtail Iran’s ballistic missiles, end its destabilizing regional activities and institute more intrusive international monitoring of Iranian facilities.”

NIAC Action asked Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign whether he would rescind the Muslim ban and if he would commit to doing so on his first day as President. In response, the Bloomberg campaign told us that while the Mayor is not making any “first day” pledges on any policy, “Rest assured that there is no question Mike would reverse the policy swiftly.”:

  • Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign staff also told NIAC Action: “President Trump’s proclamation is wrong on multiple levels. It doesn’t make the U.S. safer. It is an assault on our values and degrades our moral authority in the world. It undermines our relationships with friends and allies, and could hinder valuable cooperation on counterterrorism and other issues. It makes us a less attractive destination for immigrants from countries who aren’t on the list—and thus undercuts our competitive advantage in attracting the world’s best and brightest. It is precisely the kind of wrong-headed, un-American administration policy that Mike will undo as one of his first acts once in office.”
  • On January 27th, 2020, Mayor Bloomberg tweeted: “Three years ago Trump ordered a travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority countries, kickstarting a divisive, incendiary presidency that has made Muslims and other communities feel unwelcome. What Trump doesn’t understand is that diversity is America’s great strength and always will be.”

  • Jan 3, 2020: “Qassem Soleimani was a murderer with the blood of Americans on his hands. Without more information, we can only hope that the president has carefully thought through the national security implications of this attack for our country and the grave risks involved. But given his track record and his history of making reckless and impulsive decisions that undermine U.S. strategic and weaken our allies there is every reason to be deeply concerned.


buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Buttigieg has committed to returning to the nuclear accord, stating “I will rejoin our international partners and recommit the United States to the Iran nuclear deal.” He has also supported a “parallel policy of confronting Iran’s support for terrorism and abysmal human rights record.”

  • The Daily Show on April 19, 2019: “Yes, I think the Iran deal is something that we should be party to and should strengthen. We didn’t do it as a favor to Iran, we did it to reduce a nuclear threat and it’s still a good policy.”
  • Foreign Policy Speech on June 11, 2019:I will rejoin our international partners and recommit the United States to the Iran nuclear deal. Whatever its imperfections, this was perhaps as close to a true “art of the deal” as it gets. As even this Administration repeatedly certified, it was preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It has helped constrain the military threat that Iran poses to Israel and Europe without leading us down a path to another Middle Eastern war. This agreement was concluded not to do Iran a favor, but because it is in our national security interest—just as a parallel policy of confronting Iran’s support for terrorism and abysmal human rights record reflects our values and security interests.”

When Mayor Buttigieg was asked if he would lift the Muslim Ban early in his presidency, he answered: “of course, the Muslim ban is something that really cuts against our values and does nothing to make us safer.” He has also stated that the Muslim Ban has “distanced America from the world, undermined our State Department, harmed immigrants and visa applicants, and damaged our global credibility.”

  • When asked by NIAC Action about whether he would repeal the ban on Day 1, the Buttigieg campaign pointed us to this interview with The Intercept:

    Reporter: And just to be clear if you’re elected president in 2020, you come to office in January 2021, would you make lifting the Muslim ban an early priority of your presidency?

    Mayor Buttigeg: “Of course, the Muslim ban is something that really cuts against our values and does nothing to make us safer. Look, I take counterterrorism and security very personally and very seriously as somebody who was in the military as an officer working on these issues and I could tell you that a blanket ban on people of a certain faith or a, you know, the fig leaf over that isn’t really you know, targeting certain countries in a way that isn’t really any better, is not making us safer and it’s also undercutting the very sense of American moral authority that we are trying or at least hoping to protect.”

  • Mayor Buttigieg’s immigration platform on December 22, 2019: “The Trump administration’s policies—including the Muslim ban, budget cuts, and the public charge rule—have distanced America from the world, undermined our State Department, harmed immigrants and visa applicants, and damaged our global credibility.” He goes on to say that he would “end the Muslim Ban. Pete will immediately end this ban, which is anathema to our values as Americans.”

  • Nov. 22, 2019: I applaud the bravery of the Iranian protesters and I stand with them as they once again rise up to demand change. The Iranian government must take action to improve the lives of its citizens, rather than resorting to violence and censorship to repress protests.
  • Jan. 5, 2020: We still don’t know much about the president’s decision-making on Suleimani. But we do know that military efforts to defeat ISIS are now on hold. We know that Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops. We know that our embassy in Iraq remains under fire. We are not safer.
  • Jan. 7, 2020: Attacking cultural monuments in Iran would be a war crime under international laws. We are a nation of laws. We will act to keep America safe, not destroy cultural sites like the Taliban and ISIS have done. And my administration’s orders will not put our troops in legal jeopardy.
  • Jan. 10, 2020: When service members are deploying into harm’s way, the president should be prepared to make a case for why they need to be there, and Congress should have the courage to cast a vote on it. It’s their duty


gabbard

Representative Tulsi Gabbard

Rep. Gabbard’s campaign affirmed with NIAC Action that she has committed to returning to the nuclear accord. At the June 26th debate, she said “We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement, and we need to negotiate how we can improve it.”

  • Gabbard’s campaign told NIAC Action: “Despite its limitations, the Iran deal successfully rolled back Iran’s nuclear program and we must restore it. Diplomacy is the best way to achieve lasting solutions to security crises. We must refrain from aggressive actions that could endanger the lives of U.S. troops, undermine the nuclear deal and put us on the path to war.”
  • During the June 26th, 2019 debate, Tulsi Gabbard was one of nine candidates who raised their hand in response to the question “Who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated?”
  • During the same debate, she said: “Let’s deal with the situation where we are, where this president and his chickenhawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran. I served in the war in Iraq at the height of the war in 2005, a war that took over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniforms’ lives. The American people need to understand that this war with Iran would be far more devastating, far more costly than anything that we ever saw in Iraq. It would take many more lives. It would exacerbate the refugee crisis. And it wouldn’t be just contained within Iran. This would turn into a regional war. This is why it’s so important that every one of us, every single American, stand up and say no war with Iran. We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement, and we need to negotiate how we can improve it. It was an imperfect deal. There are issues, like their missile development, that needs to be addressed. We can do both simultaneously to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and preventing us from going to war.”

Congresswoman Gabbard told NIAC Action that she would end the ban as President. Additionally, while in Congress, she cosponsored the NO BAN Act, which if it became law, would repeal the Ban along with similar discriminatory orders.

  • The Gabbard campaign provided NIAC Action with the following quote: “Ever since President Trump put this ban in place, I’ve stood in strong opposition to it. And as President, I would lift the ban that is hurting and harming so many people, and so many families both here and in other countries around the world. Trump’s “travel ban” is supposedly for our national security. However it doesn’t do anything to make us safer because it’s not based on a legitimate threat analysis – it is instead completely arbitrary and useless.
  • The campaign continued: “True to our history and values as a nation, we have served as a place of refuge to the most vulnerable in the world. We should not be putting in place a blanket ban of refugees, especially when we have actively been fueling the counterproductive regime change wars that have caused them to flee their homes in the first place. These people would much rather stay in their homes and live in peace. That’s why we must address the cause of this refugee crisis and end the destructive U.S. policy of counterproductive regime-change wars, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.”
  • Rep. Gabbard tweeted the following on the Muslim Ban’s anniversary on Jan. 26, 2018: Trump’s “travel ban” is supposedly for our national security. However it doesn’t do anything to make us safer because it’s not based on a legitimate threat analysis – it is instead completely arbitrary and useless.

  • Jan. 3, 2020: “We do not seek regime change” Trump declares as he escalates his regime change war against Iran. Neocons like Graham/Bolton are cheering. To all who voted for Trump bc of his antiwar rhetoric, it’s time to realize he lied to u. Stand with me against Trump’s Iran War! #TrumpsWar
  • Jan. 7, 2020: #IranAttacks on U.S. troops today brought back a flood of memories from my 2005 deployment at the height of Iraq war. Constant rocket attacks. A daily reminder of the terrible cost of war. Unimaginable suffering awaits if this escalation continues. #NoWarWithlran #IranvsUS
  • Jan. 9, 2020: Trump’s war with Iran is undermining our national security and putting all Americans in greater danger. Iran is closer now to a nuclear weapon than ever before. And it’s opening the door to resurgence of ISIS/al-Qaeda. #NoWarWithIran #StandWithTulsi
  • Jan. 12, 2020: Pompeo: The attack was imminent, but “we didn’t know when and we didn’t know where.” Well, if you don’t know when and if you don’t know where, that is not “imminent”. #StandWithTulsi #NoWarWithIran
  • Jan. 11, 2020: My heartfelt condolences & love to the families of victims of plane “crash” in Iran. One of the great tragedies of war are unintended consequences & so-called “collateral damage.” Once hostilities begin things quickly get out of control & no one knows where it may end #NoIranWar


klobuchar

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Klobuchar consistently voices her support for returning to the nuclear accord, along with the Paris Climate Accord. However, at times, Sen. Klobuchar has intimated that there may be preconditions on reentry beyond Iran’s return to compliance, including when she said “I would have worked to get longer sunset periods, and that’s something we could negotiate, to get back in the deal.” NIAC Action is seeking clarification from Klobuchar’s campaign regarding her commitment to reenter the agreement.

  • When asked by the New York Times on whether she would re-enter the deal without preconditions, Sen. Klobchar stated “Senator Klobuchar has made one of her major foreign policy priorities returning to the Iran nuclear agreement while working with the other parties, the U.N. and the I.A.E.A. to strengthen the terms and conditions. As an example, she would push to extend the sunset provisions for caps on Iran’s enrichment levels and capabilities.”
  • During the June 26th, 2019 debate, Amy Klobuchar was one of nine candidates who raised their hand in response to the question “Who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated?” During the same debate, she said “It was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment. I would have worked to get longer sunset periods, and that’s something we could negotiate, to get back in the deal. But the point is, Donald Trump told us when he got out of it that he was going to give us a better deal. Those were his words. And now we are a month away from the Iranians, who claim now that they’re going blow the caps on enriching uranium. And the Iranians have told us this. And so that’s where we are now. He has made us less safe than we were when he became president. So what I would do is negotiate us back into that agreement, is stand with our allies, and not give unlimited leverage to China and Russia, which is what he has done.”
  • During the January 14, 2020 debate, Klobuchar stated: “We just found out today that four Republicans are joining Democrats to go to (President Trump) and say, “You must have an authorization of military force if you’re going to go to war with Iran.” That is so important because we have a situation where he got us out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, something I worked for a significant period of time. As President, I will get us back into that agreement. I will take an oath to protect and defend our constitution and I will mean it.”

Senator Klobuchar’s has not committed to repealing the Muslim Ban on the campaign trail, but highlighted after the first ban that “it is irresponsible and unconscionable to exclude entire populations from seeking refuge here, simply because of where they come from or what religion they practice.” She has also co-sponsored the NO BAN Act, which would repeal the Ban and similar discriminatory orders if signed into law.

  • Senator Klobuchar statement on Jan. 28, 2017: “I have long advocated for thorough vetting and have supported strong national security measures, but it is irresponsible and unconscionable to exclude entire populations from seeking refuge here, simply because of where they come from or what religion they practice. The President’s executive order is already having devastating consequences, as legal residents with green cards, refugees fleeing violence, and travelers with visas are being denied entry to the United States and some are being detained in airports. Together, lawmakers and the American people must make it clear to the President that separating families and punishing those who followed the rules is not acceptable.”
  • She continued, saying “Refugees strengthen our communities. In Minnesota, we are proud to have the largest Somali, Liberian and Oromo populations in the U.S., as well as the second largest Hmong population. They are police officers and small business owners, students and teachers. They have often fled desperate and dangerous situations, and as legal workers, have been an important part of our economy and society. We cannot turn our back on them.

  • Jan. 7, 2020: As we await the casualty assessment from tonight’s attacks, it is vital that we take this moment to consider any response. A full-blown war with Iran is not in the national security interest of the U.S. or allies in the region.
  • Jan. 9, 2020: The House vote to require the President to come to Congress to get any authorization for military action against Iran is an important step towards Congress upholding its Constitutional duties. We must use this moment to de-escalate instead of ramping up the rhetoric towards war.
  • Jan. 12, 2020: People should have the right to peacefully protest in any country, including Iran.


Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders

Sen. Sanders has unequivocally committed to returning to the nuclear accord, saying “I would re-enter the agreement on day one of my presidency and then work with the P5+1 and Iran to build upon it.”

  • In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations: “Yes. The agreement achieved by the US, Europe, Russia and China with Iran is one of the strongest anti-nuclear agreements ever negotiated. It prevented a war and blocked Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. I would re-enter the agreement on day one of my presidency and then work with the P5+1 and Iran to build upon it with additional measures to further block any path to a nuclear weapon, restrain Iran’s offensive actions in the region and forge a new strategic balance in the Middle East.
  • A spokesperson for Sen. Sanders told Al-Monitor: “As president, Sen. Sanders would rejoin the JCPOA and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away. Rejoining the JCPOA would mean meeting the United States’ commitments under the agreement, and that includes sanctions relief.”

✅✅ In his response to a NIAC Action inquiry, Senator Sanders pledged to repeal the Ban on day one of his presidency and went on to say that “We are going to stand together in the struggle for justice and human rights, and we are going to end everything Trump has done to demonize Muslims.” He also commits to working with Congress to pass the NO BAN Act to guard against future discriminatory orders.

  • The Sanders campaign told NIAC Action that Sanders pledged to repeal Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, Presidential Proclamation 9645) on Day One of his presidency.
  • The statment went on to say, “We must speak out when we have a president and an administration who believe that “Islam hates us.” We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community – and call it what it is – domestic terrorism. We are not going to allow Trump to divide us up. We are going to stand together in the struggle for justice and human rights, and we are going to end everything Trump has done to demonize Muslims. We will repeal President Trump’s racist and disgusting Muslim Ban on Day One of my presidency. And we will work with Congress to codify limitations on the President’s ability to restrict or suspend the entry of people or classes of people into the United States by passing the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act.
  • Sen. Sander’s immigration plan released on Nov. 7, 2019: “I would overturn President Trump’s racist and disgusting Muslim ban” and “work with Congress to codify limitations on the President’s ability to restrict or suspend the entry of people or classes of people into the United States by passing the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act.”
  • Statement on Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2018: “The Supreme Court today sided with fear, racism and xenophobia and against the American ideals of religious freedom and tolerance. The Trump administration’s travel ban was never about keeping America safe. We need only look at Trump’s own words to understand that this has always been a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to ban Muslims from entering this country. America loses when we become divided by religion, race, national origin or sexual orientation. We are stronger when we come together.”

  • Nov. 19, 2019: All people have the right to protest for a better future. I call on the Iranian government to end the internet blackout and stop violence against demonstrators.
  • Jan. 13, 2020: All people have the right to protest without fear of violence. I call upon the Iranian government to respect that right. The Iranian people’s future is theirs to determine, and I stand with all who seek a future of peace, dignity, and equality.
  • Jan. 6, 2020: After 16 years of war in Iraq, trillions of dollars, the deaths of 4,500 U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the Iraqi government is now trying to throw us out of their country. All that suffering, all that death, all that huge expenditure of money, for what?…I believe the House and the Senate must act quickly to advance legislation that reasserts Congress’s constitutional authority over war. We must prohibit any funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without authorization.
  • June 14, 2019: The Gulf of Oman incident must not be used as a pretext for war with Iran. War would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region, and the world. A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.
  • May 24, 2019: I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.


Steyer

Tom Steyer

Steyer public comments appear to support returning to the nuclear deal without preconditions. In conversations with NIAC Action, he has also affirmed that he would return to the deal without preconditions.

  • In an Interview with The New York Times, Steyer supported reentering the Iran nuclear deal without preconditions and said “Mr. Trump has blundered his way into a potentially long-lasting conflict with Iran. Since he announced the United States’ withdrawal from the J.C.P.O.A., Iran has grown bolder. I recognize the seriousness of Iran as an adversary and the need to work with our allies to bring Iran back to the table and away from the brink of war. While the J.C.P.O.A. did not solve all problems with the Iranian regime, it did reduce the threat of a nuclear Iran. A more long-term and responsible approach to Iran would be the diplomatic route taken by the Obama administration, including re-entering the J.C.P.O.A.”
  • In an interview with Vox on January 21, 2020: “We have sanctions on, so (lifting the sanctions) would have to be the give from us. We’re in the same position now. And the question is where are they and what can be redone? In a negotiation, of course, God is in the details. But people have to think, first, that you’re a partner who can be trusted. Why negotiate with someone who goes back on their word? You can’t do it. And secondly, are you in the range of reason? You can’t negotiate with someone if they’re not in the range of reason. That’s just normal stuff.”

✅✅ Mr. Steyer’s campaign staff told us “Tom Steyer has committed to repealing the Muslim ban on day 1 of his presidency.” He has stated separately that he would use his executive authorities to “end the Muslim travel ban.” He has also noted President Trump’s policies such as the Muslim Ban are “systemically attacking immigrant communities of color.”

  • Mr. Steyer’s campaign staff told NIAC Action that “Tom Steyer has committed to repealing the Muslim ban on day 1 of his presidency.” Steyer’s campaign website says that he will use executive action to “end the Muslim travel ban.”
  • On January 24th, 2020, Steyer tweeted: “Mr. Trump’s immigration system does not reflect America’s best values. From the Muslim travel ban to the repeal of DACA to this proposal to block visas for pregnant women, he is systemically attacking immigrant communities of color.”

  • Jan 8. 2020: I’m grateful that no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in last night’s missile strikes by Iran. Let’s make one thing clear: Trump created this crisis and his remarks today demonstrate, once again, that his go at it alone strategy makes our country less safe. His unwillingness to provide a clear path to a deal with Iran and come back to the negotiation table continues to put the lives of Americans at risk and will his recklessness will encourage more instability in the region.


Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Warren has consistently committed to returning to the nuclear deal and bringing Iran back into compliance as well.

  • In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations on July 30, 2019, Sen. Warren said: “If Iran returns to compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal, the United States should return as well. If Iran is not in compliance, I will pursue strong and principled diplomacy in concert with our allies to bring both the United States and Iran back into the deal.
  • During the June 26th, 2019 debate, Warren was one of nine candidates who raised their hand in response to the question, “Who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated?” Warren also tweeted that night, “As president, I would make sure our country gets back on the 2015 Iran Deal. We can’t afford another forever war, and I’m fighting to stop Donald Trump from dragging us into another one. #DemDebate.”

Note: Sen. Warren appears to have been the first Presidential contender to call for a return to the JCPOA, suggesting the President should do so in a committee hearing in December 2018.

✅✅ Senator Warren told us she would repeal the Muslim Ban on day one of her presidency. She also noted on the day after the Ban was instituted that “I wish I was exaggerating or that this was some sort of game, but a ban that issues religious tests and keeps refugees and immigrants from entering our country is illegal. It is unconstitutional, it is immoral, and it must be overturned.”

  • The Warren campaign told NIAC Action that Sen. Warren pledged to repeal Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, Presidential Proclamation 9645) on Day One of her presidency.
  • Medium post on July 11, 2019: “But while Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure already primed for abuse…I saw it in the tears of families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the night Trump announced his Muslim Ban.” In the same post, which outlined her entire immigration policy, she went on to say that “I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office.”
  • Speech on Senate Floor on January 28, 2017: “On Friday Night, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that strikes at the very heart of our democracy. I wish I was exaggerating or that this was some sort of game, but a ban that issues religious tests and keep refugees and immigrants from entering our country is illegal. It is unconstitutional, it is immoral, and it must be overturned.”

  • Jan. 20, 2020: Shahab Dehghani is an Iranian student with a valid F1 visa, returning to finish his education. CBP already held him overnight. His deportation must be halted, and we must fight the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies.
  • June 21, 2019: It’s not enough to say that we don’t want conflict—we must make one less likely. Congress must make clear that war with Iran is not authorized. We should work with our allies to deescalate tensions and create space for diplomacy. We can’t afford another forever war.
  • Nov. 22, 2019: Iranians have taken to the streets to protest corruption and authoritarianism. This struggle must ultimately be fought and won by the people of Iran, but we support their demand for dignity, freedom to connect to the outside world, and right to peacefully demonstrate.
  • Jan. 2, 2020: Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
  • Jan. 3, 2020: We’re on the brink of yet another war in the Middle East—one that would be devastating in terms of lives lost and resources wasted. We’re not here by accident. We’re here because a reckless president, his allies, and his administration have spent years pushing us here. Donald Trump ripped up an Iran nuclear deal that was working. He’s repeatedly escalated tensions. Now he’s assassinated a senior foreign military official. He’s been marching toward war with Iran since his first days in office—but the American people won’t stand for it.
  • Jan. 13, 2020: I support the right of the people of Iran to peacefully protest against their corrupt government. But this isn’t about us. We should support them, including by lifting the Muslim Ban—not try to engineer regime change or recklessly risk a war.


Yang

Andrew Yang

Mr. Yang has announced that it was a mistake to withdraw from the nuclear deal and that he would rejoin the agreement as President. However, he also said that the U.S. should “renegotiate the timelines, because the timelines now don’t make as much sense,’ potentially muddling his position.

  • Interview with WBUR, Boston’s NPR station: “I think it was a mistake that we withdrew from the agreement to try and have them tamp down their nuclear development in return for various economic considerations. I would rejoin that agreement, which is multilateral. There are other countries that are actually still in that agreement with Iran that have been waiting for us to rejoin.”

In the July 31, 2019 Democratic debate, Mr. Yang said “I would move to de-escalate tensions in Iran, because they’re responding to the fact that we pulled out of (the nuclear) agreement. And it wasn’t just us and Iran. There were many other world powers that were part of that multinational agreement. We’d have to try and reenter that agreement, renegotiate the timelines, because the timelines now don’t make as much sense. But I’ve signed a pledge to end the forever wars…I would bring the troops home, I would de-escalate tensions with Iran, and I would start investing our resources in our own communities.”

Mr. Yang has stated that he would “reverse the travel ban very early on” in his presidency, citing that it does not make us safer and instead “amplifies xenophobia.

  • Mr. Yang’s campaign platform does not address the Muslim Ban, but in an interview with the Washington Post on Oct. 21, 2019 he said: “I would reverse the travel ban very early on because restricting travel doesn’t make Americans any safer. All it does is cut us off from various people and countries, increasing mistrust. It’s counterproductive and it many ways not even designed to make us safer, but rather to amplify xenophobia.”

  • Jan. 2, 2020: War with Iran is the last thing we need and is not the will of the American people. We should be acting to deescalate tensions and protect our people in the region. I have signed a pledge to end the Forever Wars. Our Constitution says that it is the power of Congress to declare war. I would repeal the AUMF and restore the historical balance between Congress and the Executive branch concerning military action. We have been in a constant state of armed conflict for 19 years at a disastrous cost to both our people and our resources. This must end. Our Constitution says that it is the power of Congress to declare war. I would repeal the AUMF and restore the historical balance between Congress and the Executive branch concerning military action.

Candidates included in this tracker were polling at 1% or higher in 538’s aggregate polling tracker on January 28, 2020.

Hands off Persepolis

 

Three ways you can help prevent a war with Iran

The news that the United States assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has brought the U.S. dangerously close to war with Iran. The last thing this country or the world needs is another disastrous American military adventure in the Middle East. We need Congress to immediately put forward legislation that would rein in Trump’s ability to start a war with Iran. But if we expect them to act, we need to take action NOW. 

Here are three ways to help:

📋 Sign our petition calling on Congress to block Trump’s war with Iran. If you have already signed, share the link on social media and text ten of your friends to sign as well.

✊🏼 Show up to a protest near you TOMORROW. NIAC is cosponsoring anti-war demonstrations across the country tomorrow, January 4 to call for no war with Iran. Find a demonstration near you here and download NIAC Action’s anti-war signs here.

💪🏼 Sign up to volunteer. We have volunteer chapters all across the country and plenty of opportunities to get involved. Whether it’s mobilizing Iranian Americans to take action, meeting with your member of Congress, or working with the media, there is a place for you. Sign up to volunteer here. 

Please join the effort today and help us prevent a disastrous war with Iran.

Letter Opposing Draconian U.S. Sanctions on Iran Causing Shortages of Life Saving Medicine

📋 Take action here to tell your Members of Congress to sign this letter!

 

November XX, 2019

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin

Secretary

Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20220

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, 

We are writing to express our deep concern over sanctions levied on Iran by the Administration that are causing shortages in medicine, particularly for pediatric cancer patients and those with other chronic, advanced, or rare diseases. The Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, targeted at crippling Iranian leadership with economic sanctions, is having collective and punitive effects on ordinary Iranian citizens.

While the Administration has stated that humanitarian supplies, like medicine, are exempt from sanctions, we are concerned by reports that indicate otherwise. Blanket U.S. sanctions conflict with humanitarian exemptions; the broad nature of these sanctions, particularly the designation of Iran’s Central Bank under terror authorities, undermines long-standing bipartisan support for ensuring humanitarian trade is not impacted by sanctions. Foreign banks and medical companies are deterred from doing business with Iran out of fear of being penalized or having secondary sanctions levied against them by the Department of Treasury. U.S. sanctions have led to medicine and medical equipment shortages and have put vital medication and treatment out of reach for Iranians.

In October 2018, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that these sanctions unilaterally re-imposed by the U.S., after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, were illegally impeding Iran’s access to medicine and medical devices, in direct violation of the Treaty of Amity of 1955. Regrettably, the Administration responded by rejecting the ruling, pulling the U.S. out of the Treaty, and continuing to tighten sanctions. These sanctions are clearly violating international law, and we must respect and act according to the ruling of the ICJ.

The strategy of economic warfare against Iran is causing undue suffering to the country’s most vulnerable communities. Those who are especially impacted include tens of thousands of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, hemophilia, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, or cancers, such as Leukemia, which is the leading form of childhood cancer in Iran. Sanctions are having devastating ramifications for these patients; whose medications and treatment rely heavily on imports.

While Iran produces about 97% of its medicine domestically, it relies on imports from several countries for the remaining 3%. This 3% is crucial to Iran’s healthcare system, as it consists of vastly more costly, specialized drugs for cancers and rare diseases that are unavailable domestically. Sanctions also severely limit Iran’s ability to import raw materials that drugs for cancer treatment depend upon. Furthermore, hospitals are struggling to access medical equipment that is crucial to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, leading to interruptions in patient care, and ultimately, to a decrease in cancer survival rates. There have also been reports of burgeoning black-market drug activity that offers unreliable, low-quality, and potentially dangerous alternatives to desperate patients.

On October 25, 2019, the Department of Treasury announced a new “humanitarian mechanism” to allow medicine imports into Iran. However, this was coupled by the designation of Iran as a “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act. This action renders the “humanitarian mechanism” insufficient, as it creates rigorous conditions for foreign bank participation with regard to humanitarian trade, requiring them to abide by “enhanced due diligence and provide to Treasury a substantial and unprecedented amount of information.” It is highly unlikely that banks will voluntarily subject themselves to the new conditions necessary to participate in humanitarian trade with Iran, which were previously exempted by general license. In fact, foreign banks have cautioned against designating Iran under Section 311, as it would impel them to stop processing humanitarian business altogether. The likely outcome of this “channel” is only to further limit Iranians from accessing crucial medical supplies. 

Considering this recent announcement, and of the concerns detailed above, we kindly request a response to the following questions regarding the sanctions policy and its implementation:

  1. Has the Treasury department developed and distributed clear guidance for businesses on the new humanitarian mechanism?
    1. If so, we request that such guidance be made public. If not, we urge you to develop and publish guidance promptly to address overcompliance on the part of companies who fear secondary sanctions. 
    2. What other resources are available at the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to assist both US and non-US banks and companies as well as NGOs and charity groups in navigating the sanctions compliance requirements?  
  2. What mechanisms are in place at the Treasury department to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the sanctions program and its impact on the import of humanitarian goods?
  3. What specific steps has the Treasury department, in coordination with the State Department, taken to consult with nongovernmental organizations, companies, and Iranian healthcare providers, to assess the impact of US sanctions on humanitarian needs?
  4. Since November 2018, how many special licenses has the OFAC issued for humanitarian transfers and for medicine and medical equipment to Iran? What is the average processing time for issuing such licenses?
  5. Since Nov. 2018, how many licenses has the OFAC issued for projects or activities designed to directly benefit the Iranian people? And what is the average processing time for issuing such license?  
  6. Which agencies were involved in the decision to designate the CBI and mandate new reporting requirements on humanitarian trade? Were concerns raised that these decisions would undermine long-standing humanitarian exemptions under Iran sanctions, and complicate the provision of food and medicine to the Iranian people?

We strongly urge the Administration to conduct a sweeping review of its sanctions campaign against Iran and identify and implement the necessary adjustments required to fulfill responsibilities under international law, as ordered by the ICJ’s October 2018 ruling, to protect the Iranian people’s right to health. While the efficacy of sanctions is questionable, we also urge the OFAC to expand the list of medical supplies that international suppliers are eligible to trade with Iran, especially for cancer and other chronic, advanced, or rare diseases. Considering the ongoing protests in Iran, and the Iranian government’s shutdown of internet services, we also see a clear need to expand General License D-1 so that the United States is not taking any actions that help the Iranian government block outside communications.

The Administration’s sanctions campaign is in direct contradiction with the stated overarching goal of supporting the human rights of the Iranian people and their aspirations for democracy and freedom. It should be made a priority to remedy the adverse consequences of these sanctions to ensure that Iranians have the basic human right of access to quality, affordable medicine.

Thank you for your attention and consideration of this matter.

 

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva  
Representative Ilhan Omar
Representative Barbara Lee

Memo: Iran Protests, Internet Blackout & Government Crackdown

The Iranian government abruptly announced last Thursday that the price of gasoline would be increased, triggering widespread protests from a population already under severe economic hardship due to governmental mismanagement and the impact of U.S. sanctions. Videos out of Iran show violent confrontations between security forces and protesters, with tear gas and riot police being deployed and, in some cases, live ammunition used.

According to BBC Persian, as of Sunday, at least 12 people have been killed, dozens injured, and roughly 1,000 arrested. At least one hundred banks and dozens of gas stations and stores have been damaged in the roughly 100 cities where protests have erupted. Access to the internet has also been severely limited by the Iranian government, severely hindering the ability of ordinary Iranians to connect with the outside world.

For Members of Congress, we encourage three actions. First, condemn the Iranian government’s ongoing stifling of the internet and brutal crackdown that is in contravention of the government’s international human rights obligations. Second, take action to ensure that sanctions do not inadvertently harm the Iranian people, including by pushing to broaden licensing for vital communication technology. Third, in solidarity with the Iranian people, push the Trump administration to end its discriminatory Muslim ban and ensure sanctions no longer inhibit humanitarian trade.

The following is an overview of the gas price hike, the ongoing protests, and the implications of U.S. policy for the protests:

Protests Most Far-Reaching Since Winter 2017/2018 Unrest

  • The wide scope of the protests are similar to the tumult that rocked large parts of Iran in late December 2017 and early January 2018.
  • Like those protests, these protests were also spurred by economic grievances and the slogans of many demonstrators have addressed broader political grievances and targeted the entire political system.
  • The protests have been marked by a high-degree of violence between security forces and protestors. In videos posted on social media, security forces can be seen firing live ammunition at protests, beating people with batons, firing tear gas, and damaging the vehicles of protesters.
  • The protests have also been marked by demonstrators blocking off roads and leaving their cars in traffic. Videos also show government buildings being attacked and set on fire–including offices of local Basij paramilitary forces and religious officials–as well as shops, banks, and other property.
  • Notably, when the price hike was first announced, social media channels affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards promoted people abandoning their cars in traffic, leading some to speculate hardline forces sought to trigger and use protests to weaken their moderate and reformist rivals.

 

U.S. Sanctions Are Helping Enable Internet Shutdown

  • Since Saturday, the Iranian government has mostly shut down internet access in the country. The shutdown is the country’s longest and most limiting to date.

  • Many Iranian Americans have now also lost their only means of communication with loved ones in Iran, whether through WhatsApp, Skype, or other similar services.

  • In recent years, U.S. sanctions have created a double layer of censorship on the Iranian people’s online activities by limiting their ability to use vital communication tools and outside-based cloud and web-hosting services.

  • Overcompliance with sanctions has led major tech companies to restrict their software and services to Iranians in recent years. This includes access to the Apple App Store, Coursera, edX, Github, Slack, and vitally, Amazon Web Service and Google Cloud.

  • As a result, ordinary Iranians have lost access to virtual private networks (VPNs) that enable them to circumvent government censorship and spying, forcing Iranians onto government infrastructure.

  • The consequences of this are now evident, with the Iranian government far more effectively able to shutter the access of ordinary Iranians to the internet.

  • At this critical juncture, Congress should push the Treasury Department to revise General License D-1, which exempts certain software and hardware vital for communication on the internet but hasn’t been updated in over five years.

  • A new rule should provide license authorization for U.S. and foreign persons to provide Iranians access to all technology and services necessary for Iranians to access virtual private networks, including cloud-based software.

 

 Government Shows No Signs of Rescinding Price Hike

  • President Rouhani’s announcement of the price hike was met with fierce backlash from his conservative rivals, reformist and hardline members of parliament, and senior clergy.

  • At least two members of parliament have resigned, including a prominent reformist MP representing Tehran.  Both reformist and conservative parliamentarians denounced the fact that they weren’t consulted on the price hike and hardline MPs have now introduced bills to impeach Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.
     
  • Despite this, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has publicly defended the price hike and labeled protesters as “thugs” connected to outside powers.

  • While some hardline institutions and media are attempting to scapegoat the centrist Rouhani for the price hike, Khamenei’s support makes it unlikely that the price hike will be rescinded.

  • Khamenei also noted that the price hike decision wasn’t made by just the Rouhani administration, but by a high-level economic body comprised of the heads of the three branches of the Iranian government—which includes the hardliner-dominated judiciary.  

 

Price Hike Aimed at Reforming Costly Subsidy System

  • Iran’s far-reaching subsidies take up a large portion of the government’s annual budget and the country has among the cheapest gasoline rates in the world.

  • Attempts by various Iranian governments over the years to reform the subsidy system have been met with strong political backlash.

  • However, the gas subsidies have become increasingly unsustainable in the face of increasing domestic gas consumption, massive smuggling, and budget shortfalls due to U.S. sanctions.

  • According to Iranian officials, daily gasoline consumption in Iran is approaching 110 million liters, which is close to exceeding the amount of gasoline produced domestically.  While Iran is a major producer of unrefined oil, it struggles to domestically meet the demand for refined gasoline.

  • In announcing the gas price hike, Rouhani said the price would be set at two different rates and the revenue generated would be redistributed via cash transfer to 18 million poorer households. These deposits will be made monthly, with the first expected on November 22nd.

  • The more heavily subsidized rate is a 50 percent increase from the previous rate and holds for up to 60 liters of gasoline consumption a month. After that quota is surpassed, any additional gas purchases will cost three times more than the price of gas before the price hike.

Stop Trump from Sanctioning Humanitarian Trade to Iranians

 

NIAC Action signs on to letter urging Congress to keep key amendments to the NDAA

This week, NIAC Action signed a letter to congressional Democrats voicing our support for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, as well as a host of other important initiatives, in the ongoing FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act negotiations. Signatories of the letter included the Truman Project for National Security, MoveOn, and Peace Action, as well as 40 other organizations.
With negotiations entering an important phase, it is imperative that the Khanna – Gaetz amendment, which would prevent President Trump from conducting an unauthorized war with Iran, remain in the final version of the NDAA. In a recent cabinet meeting, President Trump said that “we may need to get into wars. If Iran does something, they’ll be hit like they’ve never been before.” According to a survey of Iranian Americans, approximately 62% would oppose military strikes against Iran. War serves no one interests, which is why it NIAC Action has worked tirelessly with our coalition partners to meet with and support our allies in the House and Senate to ensure the bill remains strong.

October 24, 2019

We are a diverse group of organizations focused on strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, combating corruption, and promoting human rights, and together we represent millions of Americans. We write to urge you to stand up for democratic values in negotiations around the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and refuse to provide over $730 billion in unrestrained Pentagon spending unless there are significant constraints on this administration’s harmful policies.

Over the course of his administration, Donald Trump has been on the brink of war with Iran, continued U.S. complicity in supporting atrocities committed by the Saudi/Emirati-led coalition in Yemen, illegally raided Pentagon funds for his hateful border wall project that harms migrants and asylum-seekers, banned transgender service members from military service, developed new nuclear weapons while also broadening their potential uses in official U.S. policy, expanded use-of-force authorities – leading to a major increase in civilian casualties, and sought to lessen oversight of military-style firearms exports, among other abuses.

The House Democratic majority ensured that H.R. 2500 took a stand against those abuses. It includes smart, common-sense, and humane provisions on foreign policy and national security. For instance, H.R. 2500 guards against a Trump-led war of choice with Iran; ends U.S. weapons and security aid to the Saudi/Emirati-led coalition; bars any use of Pentagon dollars for a southern border “wall;” prevents discrimination against transgender service members; bars the deployment of the new low-yield nuclear weapon; repeals the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq; bans new detainees at GTMO; requires DOD to exhaustively report on civilian casualties; prevents the administration from relaxing oversight of assault weapons exports; and includes protections from toxic PFAS chemicals, which contaminate groundwater and drinking water around hundreds of military installations across the country.

Now is a key time for continued moral leadership. The pressure will certainly be great to capitulate to the Administration and its supporters, passing a NDAA stripped of all these meaningful reforms, protections, and constraints, but we will have your back if you stand strong. We urge you to oppose any negotiated bill that does not include a minimum of core progressive priorities that were included in H.R 2500. There is simply no reason to continue with business-as-usual with such a reckless, corrupt, and unlawful president. Any compromise on the NDAA must provide genuine checks on the president, or it is not worth passing into law.

Action Corps ·Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) ·Arms Control Association ·Avaaz · Beyond the Bomb · Campaign for America’s Future · Center for Biological Diversity · Center for International Policy · CODEPINK · Common Defense · Council for a Livable World · CREDO · Demand Progress · Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries · Foreign Policy for America · Franciscan Action Network ·Freedom Forward · Fuerza del Valle · Global Exchange · Hispanic Federation ·Humanitarian Border Solutions · La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) · Main Street Alliance · MoveOn · National Iranian American Council Action · NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice ·Newtown Action Alliance · Nuclear Age Peace Foundation · Nuclear Watch New Mexico · Open Society Policy Center · Our Revolution · Peace Action · Physicians for Social Responsibility · Public Citizen · RGV Equal Voice Network · Southern Border Communities Coalition · Students for Yemen · Survivors Empowered Action Fund · The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society · Truman Project for National Security · Union of Concerned Scientists · United for Peace and Justice · Win Without War · Women’s Action for New Directions

30 Organizations Call on Congress to Prohibit Unauthorized War with Iran

September 17, 2019

The Honorable James Inhofe Chairman,
Senate Committee on Armed Services Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Adam Smith Chairman,
House Armed Service Committee Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Armed Services Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mac Thornberry Ranking Member,
House Armed Service Committee Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry:

As pro-diplomacy organizations that oppose unauthorized war with Iran, we call on the National Defense Authorization Act conferees to retain language supported by a bipartisan majority in both chambers that would prohibit funds for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly signaled its intent to subvert Congress’ constitutional prerogative to decide when the United States will and will not go to war. The Administration violated and abandoned the agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear activities and engaged in a series of escalations with Iran. While Iran has ratcheted up the tension with destabilizing actions of its own, the Trump Administration’s provocations and saber rattling have made conflict, not diplomacy, more likely. Having reportedly come within minutes of launching a military strike on Iran a few months ago, the president has again threatened the imminent use of force in response to attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.

The question of whether American forces should be put in harm’s way is one of the utmost gravity. The Constitution gives the power of the purse and the power to declare war to Congress, and Congress alone. Congress needs to assert its constitutional powers to prevent decisions about the use of force being made by an administration that has acted with gross recklessness and profoundly weakened key alliances and multilateral partnerships essential to addressing threats from Iran. Escalation by the United States risks both further alienation and getting mired in another disastrous war in the region.

Bipartisan majorities in both chambers support blocking funds for unauthorized military strikes against Iran. Although the Senate bill did not include such a provision, 51 Senators indicated their support for the Kaine-Udall amendment that would have added it to the Senate-passed version of the legislation. In the House, 251 Representatives voted for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment prohibiting funds from being used for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

Given the bipartisan majority in both chambers supportive of ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran, the conferees must ensure the Khanna-Gaetz amendment is fully included in the final bill.

Failing to honor the will of the American people’s elected representatives on this point, at the very moment the administration is barreling toward an unauthorized and costly war of choice, would be an undemocratic and historic abdication of constitutional responsibility.

Signed,

American College of National Security Leaders
Americans for Peace Now
Arab American Institute
Arms Control Association
Center for American Progress
Center for International Policy
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Common Defense
Council for a Livable World
CREDO Action
Demand Progress
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Foreign Policy for America
Global Security Institute
Indivisible
J Street 
Just Foreign Policy
MoveOn
NIAC Action
Open Society Policy Center
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Ploughshares Fund
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Truman National Security Project
T’ruah
VoteVets
Union of Concerned Scientists
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

cc: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

Memo: Congress Must Clarify No Authorization for Iran War, Urge Deescalation after Saudi Oil Attack

President Trump is once again hinting that he will go to war with Iran via Twitter, this time over attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities for which the Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit. At this time, there is no clear smoking gun to implicate Iran despite the Trump administration’s strident condemnations.

For lawmakers, it is imperative to reinforce:

1)   Congress has not authorized war against Iran, nor has the United Nations. Any strikes on Iran without authorization would be illegal.

2)   There is no clear evidence implicating Iran – but even if there was, a Trump-led war on a nation nearly four times the size of Iraq would be a costly, generational mistake. Iran has signaled it will retaliate forcefully against any attacks on its territory.

3)   If it was the Houthis who initiated the attack, as they have claimed, it is yet another clear sign that the Yemen war needs to end. Not only is the war a disaster for Yemen, but it is achieving the opposite of its goals by eroding the security of Saudi Arabia.

4)   If Iran is implicated as the sponsor of the attack, it would be yet another sign that Trump’s maximum pressure approach is a catastrophic failure. Far from ease regional tensions and Iran’s military footprint, Trump’s approach is ensuring the reverse.

5)   Regardless of the sponsor, now is the time for de-escalation. The skeleton for a deal is on the table – the international community would ease economic pressure on Iran in exchange for Iranian restraint and further negotiations. 

We are at this crisis point because of the convergence of two self-inflicted disasters spurred by our impulsive President: the decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose “maximum pressure” sanctions; and the refusal to pull out of the war on Yemen and seriously press for Saudi Arabia to deescalate there.

At this juncture, Trump can choose diplomacy and peace or repeat the mistakes that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with Iran. With the region at a boiling point, all lawmakers need to be strongly urging restraint and reinforcing that there is no authorization for war.