Following a military strike from the U.S. on an Iranian military leader near the Baghdad, Iraq, airport, a conservative member of Congress who used to belong to the Republican Party had harsh words for the president of the United States, warning him that the power to declare war rested with Congress, not with himself.
A revered Iranian commander named Qasem Soleimani was killed in air attacks from the U.S. military on Thursday evening, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement, according to The Military Times.
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” that statement read.
Several lawmakers noted that Soleimani’s death may have been justified, especially in wake of protests that occurred earlier this week in Baghdad, which U.S. officials have claimed were part of a plan by Tehran. A tweet from BuzzFeed reporter Miriam Elder noted that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker acknowledged that “Soleimani is a person with American blood on his hands,” but that he also questioned whether Trump had a broader strategy in mind for how to deal with Iran in the future.
Rep. Justin Amash, an independent congressman from Michigan who left the Republican Party last year, spoke out against Soleimani, but also took Trump to task for his use of military force against Iran, in a tweet that seemingly warned the president against taking further action without congressional approval.
There’s a reason our Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war: Every American may be intimately affected by a violent conflict. Soleimani was evil. But our system demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 3, 2020
“There’s a reason our Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war: Every American may be intimately affected by a violent conflict,” Amash wrote in his statement. Understanding that Soleimani was not a good person, Amash nevertheless pointed out that the Constitution “demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress.”
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war. Many presidents, however, have used their Article II powers as commander-in-chief to engage in military action, sometimes for several years at a time, without an official declaration of war from the national legislature.
The last official war declarations made by Congress, according to archives from the U.S. Senate website, happened during World War II.