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

NIAC Applauds House for Pulling U.S. Back from the Brink of War with Iran via Khanna-Gaetz Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday July 12, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to bar funding for an unauthorized war with Iran. The amendment passed with a final vote count of 251-170. The Khanna-Gaetz amendment was offered as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and builds on the momentum from last month’s Senate vote on the Kaine-Udall amendment, which also would have also blocked the Trump administration from launching an unauthorized war with Iran.

In response to the passage of the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, NIAC Action President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“The House of Representatives should be applauded for its vote today to stop an unauthorized war with Iran before it starts, and we call on the Senate to follow suit. With the passage of the amendment from Representatives Ro Khanna and Matt Gaetz, legislators moved one step closer to pulling the U.S. back from the edge of a war that the American people do not want and that Congress has never authorized. With nearly all of the 2020 presidential candidates calling for the U.S. to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and now with the House passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, a bipartisan consensus against the Bolton-Pompeo approach to Iran has clearly emerged.

“Such safeguards would not be necessary if the Trump administration were not recklessly endangering American security with its incoherent maximum pressure approach toward Iran. Last month, the President took us ten minutes from war, which would have been certain to trigger Iranian reprisals and a long trail of consequences not confined within Iran’s borders. Both the President and his Secretary of State have intimated that they do not need Congressional approval to launch a war, with many Members of Congress alarmed by the administration’s transparent attempts to justify a war with Iran under the 2001 authorization to use military force.

“The Iranian-American community and the broader American public know that war with Iran would be a disaster. That’s why a majority in the House and Senate now are on the record voting for provisions to rule out an unauthorized war with Iran. It is imperative that legislators ensure that the final defense authorization bill includes the Khanna-Gaetz amendment.

“We applaud Reps. Khanna and Gaetz for their leadership. Without the help of Chairmen Eliot Engel, Adam Smith and Jim McGovern as well as Reps. Anna Eshoo, Seth Moulton, Anthony Brown, Barbara Lee and countless Americans who spoke out against war with Iran, this vote would not have been possible.”