“The danger here is that you get into a pattern of military escalation that turns into a war with no voters ever having a say,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), A senior foreign relations official Committee, in an interview. “The safest bet for a president is simply to claim full Article II authority.”
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, suggested that he would like a fuller investigation into Biden’s legal rationale for the strikes. The powers of the President under Article II have long been considered far-reaching and far-reaching by Democratic and Republican governments alike.
“Congress has the power to authorize the use of military force and declarations of war, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hear more from the government about these strikes,” Menendez said in a statement Monday on the airstrikes.
To complicate matters for the Biden administration, the Iraqi government condemned the attacks on its soil on Monday, with officials describing the attack as a “blatant” violation of its sovereignty.
Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq and Syria have stepped up their attacks against Americans in the region in recent months, leading Biden to endorse what Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called “precision defensive air strikes” targeting the groups’ arsenals aim near Iraq. Syria border.
“Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting US interests in Iraq, the president has ordered further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks,” added Kirby.
The Pentagon has concluded that each attack hit its intended target, and officials are currently evaluating the full impact of the operation, Pentagon spokesman Cmdr said. Jessica McNulty said POLITICO on Monday. Air Force jets from US Central Command bases carried out the attacks, according to a defense official.
The groups have shifted their tactics from using missiles to deploying unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, in recent months, a move US officials see as an escalation. The militias have carried out at least five UAS attacks on facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April, McNulty said.
But these Pentagon statements may not be enough for the Democrats, who are already demanding secret briefings on the nature of the threat. Some already view the air strikes as “hostilities” under the War Powers Act, which therefore require the approval of Congress.
“The government would be better off coming to Congress and asking for a declaration of war debate if it sees the need to keep going back and forth with … Iranian proxy groups,” Murphy said.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), A former CIA officer who has urged the revocation of obsolete war permits, said she had not read the government’s justification for the airstrike but did not anticipate the move sparked a lengthy debate about war powers.
“We are quite a long way from approving or allowing the use of military force specifically for militias supported by Iran”[s]”Spanberger said in an interview.” There is a lot going on around the world and I think there would be a significant, significant debate … within Congress before we would write such a permit. “
Since launching an air strike on a border crossing used by Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria in February, Biden has refrained from retaliating in repeated militia attacks on US and Iraqi personnel. Officials said the February move was designed to signal Iran that the Biden government would not tolerate such proxy attacks in the region while avoiding escalating into a larger conflict.
However, the government sees the growing number of UAS attacks as an escalation designed to increase pressure on Washington to withdraw troops from Iraq, said a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. The drones are now carrying larger and more precise payloads, this official said.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Who led the House of Lords efforts to lift the 1991 and 2002 Iraq war permits, said White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk plans to brief him on Monday of the strikes .
Kaine said he was concerned that the conflict would “escalate without discussion in Congress,” but added that Biden’s actions were a “classic” self-defense mechanism.
“I have a much more limited view of Article II powers than most here,” added Kaine. “I think it has to be the defense against attacks or threatened attacks.”
The Democrats also raised concerns about whether the US attacks against the Iran-backed militias were actually acting as a deterrent. The government has described the attacks as targeted and precise, but the attacks on Americans have not abated.
“Protecting American forces is a priority, but the continued air strikes are clearly not stopping Iran-backed militias from attacking our forces in Iraq,” said Sara Jacobs MP (D-Calif.). “I’m looking forward to hearing a realistic de-escalation plan from the Biden government – as we discussed in February – because we can’t keep going on strikes and expect a different outcome.”
Republicans were largely silent on Monday morning about the air strikes, but Jim Inhofe, Senator from Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said Biden did the right thing and the decision underscores the need to maintain approval for the 2002 Iraq war Books.
“I think these measures are overdue and I underline the continued need for the 2002 AUMF, or – at least – the need for a full replacement before repeal can be considered, especially given that the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have an ongoing one Threat to American troops, “Inhofe said in a statement.
The Iraqi government has long been in a difficult position as it tries to maintain good relations with Tehran and Washington, which are adversaries. Both US forces and Iranian-backed forces have assisted the Iraqi government in its fight against the terrorist group Islamic State, and Iran has significant economic, cultural and religious ties with Iraq.
Nahal Toosi and Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.