What is the War Powers Act? House to vote on a resolution to curb Trump’s actions in Iran

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that the House will vote this week on a war powers resolution to limit President Donald Trump’s military action in Iran after last week’s drone attack that killed a top Iranian military commander.

Pelosi, D-California, told Democrats in a "Dear Colleague" letter that killing Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a "provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials."

Pelosi said the House will vote on a War Powers resolution to “limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran.” Pelosi said in her letter that passing the resolution “reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.”

She noted that the resolution was similar to one that Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, had introduced in the Senate on Friday.

The War Powers Act, established in 1973 during the Vietnam War, requires presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of military action. It also limits the use of servicemen and women and military equipment to no more than 60 days unless Congress authorizes force or declares war.

The act, officially known as the War Powers Resolution, was passed over a presidential veto by President Richard Nixon.

In addition to requiring that the president report to Congress within 48 hours of military forces being introduced “into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances: the law requires the president to consult with the Legislature, “in every possible instance” before committing troops to war.

The White House on Saturday sent Congress the required War Powers Act notification of the drone strike. The classified notification was sent to Pelosi and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate president pro tempore, along with other congressional leaders.

Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon “These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back,” & perhaps in a disproportionate manner” but added that “legal notice is not required” for him to take additional action against Iran.

Robert O’Brien, White House national security adviser, told reporters on Friday that the strike fell under Trump’s “constitutional authorities as commander in chief to defend our nation.”

O’Brien also referred to the 2002 measure passed by Congress that gave President George W. Bush the legal authority to wage war on Saddam Hussein and the government of Iraq.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that cultural sites would be targeted if Iran continued targeting Americans and U.S. assets and interests in the region.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday.

However, according to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the targeting of antiquities and national treasures is a war crime.

According to the convention, countries “shall refrain from any act directed by way of reprisals against cultural property.”

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