Democrats in both chambers of Congress are pushing forward an Iranian War Powers resolution that would appear to hamper the President’s authority to engage with Iran in case they attack. As a concurrent resolution, it technically wouldn’t do anything at all; the President is able and likely willing to ignore it altogether. But some won’t ignore it, namely Tehran. They will see it as a weakening of the President’s authority and an opportunity to do what they will.
As a concurrent resolution for the House and Senate, not a joint resolution, it has as much force of law behind it as a condemning Tweet. This is 100% a political publicity stunt intended to confuse voters who aren’t up on their civics. It won’t be pushed as a joint resolution because doing so means it would have to be signed by the President, which he, of course, would not. But if it were pushed as a joint resolution, there is less of a chance that the current Republican defectors – Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and possibly three or four others – would be willing to stand on that particular hill. The fact that the resolutions are meaningless enables them to take the ideological high road, which is exactly what Democrats want.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized Pelosi in a floor speech Wednesday for blaming the Trump administration Tuesday night, rather than Iran, for the confrontation — while U.S. troops were under fire.
Pelosi had tweeted against “needless provocations from the Administration” and suggested the U.S. could not “afford” war.
She said Wednesday that the Democrats’ resolution may include a proposal introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to defund any U.S. military action against Iran — effectively signaling surrender.
Their goal is to two-fold: to embarrass the President with bipartisan opposition to his engagements with Iran and to have an “I told you so” card if President Trump orders similar strikes like the one that took out Quds leader Qasem Soleimani. Unfortunately, it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy with their second goal. Iran will view passage of the resolutions as signs of weakness and fading support for President Trump. They’ll attempt to push the boundaries to draw the President into conflict with them. Such conflict will bring him into further conflict with Democrats.
The opposition party in the United States is currently opposed for the sake of opposing. The President made it clear with both his restraint following Iran’s attacks on Tuesday as well as his press conference Wednesday that he wants to pursue peace. The Democrats aren’t satisfied with peace as long as it’s a feather in the President’s cap, so they’re pushing their own agenda to mislead voters into thinking they’re the only thing preventing President Trump from starting another unpopular Middle East war.
There’s a third minor reason this is being pushed forward in the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It’s a reward and a bump for the resolution sponsor, Representative Elissa Slotkin, who has been dogged by her support for impeachment. Her swing district has been upset by her voting for the Articles of Impeachment. By pushing her to the national stage, even if only briefly and symbolically, it could help the freshman Congresswoman in this year’s MI-08 election.
As impotent as it may be, the Iran War Powers resolutions will embolden Iran. Their proxies will increase attacks. Their propaganda and cyberattacking mechanisms will go into overdrive. Democrats are giving Iran exactly what they want.