01.09.20

Kilmer Takes Action to Reduce Likelihood of War with Iran, Leads Letter to Demand Clear Strategy

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support H. Con. Res. 83, a resolution he cosponsored that makes clear that only Congress can declare war and that Congress has not authorized the use of military force against Iran. The resolution restricts offensive military action unless Congress has authorized it or action is necessary to defend against an imminent armed attack on the United States or America’s armed forces. The resolution passed the House 224-194 with bipartisan support.

“The American people do not want – and Congress has not authorized – another war in the Middle East,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I visited our servicemembers and diplomats in the Middle East less than two months ago. Those brave Americans, and others serving throughout the region, deserve a strategy that keeps them safe, enhances our security and those of our allies, and fosters long-term stability in the region. Today’s action is consistent with Article I of the Constitution, making it clear that if the President wants to start a war, he must get authorization from the representatives of the American people.”

Rep. Kilmer also announced today that he is co-sponsoring additional legislation aimed at keeping America safe – including Rep. Barbara Lee’s resolution to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and Rep. Ro Khanna’s legislation to prohibit funding for military action against Iran not authorized by Congress. Both bills reclaim the Constitutional authority of Congress to declare war and authorize the use of military force, an authority that has eroded over the last two decades. Today’s resolution and the other legislation would not prevent defensive actions nor would they impact ongoing operations against ISIS and al Qaeda.

Yesterday, Rep. Kilmer joined over 35 lawmakers in a letter to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Acting Director of National Intelligence, demanding answers about the Administration’s decision to undertake the military operation against Qasem Soleimani and to provide the American people and Congress a clear strategy to keep America and its allies safe and secure.

“For the past 17 years, Americans have shouldered the burden created by war in Iraq and subsequent conflict. The American people deserve to have leaders who are willing to have a serious discussion about the wisdom and costs of additional conflict. We urge you to engage in this discussion with us so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure our national security. As you send our nation’s sons and daughters far from home to secure our embassies and interests in the region, it is only right that you provide the American people with a detailed explanation of your strategy and goals,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Among those who signed the letter: Reps. Adam Schiff (Chairman, House Intelligence Committee), Adam Smith (Chairman, House Armed Services Committee), James P. McGovern (Chairman, House Rules Committee), and numerous representatives who served in the military, intelligence community, or diplomatic corps, including Gilbert R. Cisneros, Ruben Gallego, Andy Kim, Ted Lieu, Tom Malinowski, Jimmy Panetta, Max Rose, Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger, and others. 

The text of the letter can be found HERE and below.

---

Dear President Trump:

We write to you with deep concern over the state of our increasingly volatile relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the recent military operation targeting a senior Iranian general in the Republic of Iraq.

On January 2, the Department of Defense conducted an operation, at your direction, to kill Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad. General Soleimani was undoubtedly a malign actor and integral figure in propagating state-sponsored terrorism. While we do not mourn his death, the killing has profoundly escalated regional tensions, isolated us from our allies, increased the threat posed to our servicemembers and diplomats serving overseas, and shifted resources from the counter-ISIS mission. 

Your administration has yet to provide the American people and Congress with a sufficient explanation as to why this action was necessary and what your overall strategy is for curbing Iran’s regional aggression or nuclear ambitions. The House of Representatives has requested a briefing from your administration on these issues, which we expect to receive in short order. To ensure that the briefers are prepared to address our concerns, we are submitting the following non-exclusive list of questions to which we expect comprehensive answers. While the operational details pertaining to some of these questions may be classified, we believe all of these questions are of vital importance to facilitating a robust national discussion on this important matter of national security. Therefore, we request that unclassified responses be released to the American people.

  1. In light of the January 7 Iranian missile attack on U.S. forces and threats in the region, what steps are the Department of Defense and Department of State taking to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and their families serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf, and other countries in the region?
  2. What is the mission, scope of responsibilities, and timeline for the more than 7,000 additional U.S. troops recently deployed to the region?
  3. Senior officials in your administration, including the Secretaries of State and Defense, and your National Security Advisor, have referenced the need to undertake the operation against General Soleimani was due to an "imminent threat." What is the specific "imminent threat" your administration referenced and how has the strike mitigated that threat and its imminence? 
  4. How is your administration working with our NATO allies and strategic partners in the region, including Iraq, to ensure a unified approach toward Iran?
  5. What steps are being taken to engage with the Iraqi government and respond to their concerns in order to avert the expulsion of U.S. military personnel supporting the counter-ISIS mission?  
  6. What contingency plans has your administration developed to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS if U.S. forces are expelled from Iraq?
  7. What is your administration’s strategy to de-escalate tensions with Iran, curb their regional aggression, and contain their nuclear ambitions? How do recent U.S. military actions, undertaken at your direction, advance your publicly stated goal of averting a war with Iran, which the American people do not support?
  8. Do you intend to seek legal authority from Congress for further military action against Iran, as would be required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution?  

Our founders vested in Congress the constitutional power to authorize the use of military force and declare war. You are obligated to provide Congress with truthful information in a timely manner, and we expect your good-faith cooperation consistent with the gravity of the situation with which we are faced. Moreover, Congress has not authorized a war with Iran and you must consult Congress before directing any further hostilities with Iran or troop deployments to the region.

For the past 17 years, Americans have shouldered the burden created by war in Iraq and subsequent regional conflicts. The American people deserve leaders who are willing to have a serious discussion about the wisdom and costs of additional conflict. We urge you to engage in this discussion with us so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure our national security. As you send our nation’s sons and daughters far from home to secure our embassies and interests in the region, it is only right that you provide the American people with a detailed explanation of your strategy and goals. 

Sincerely,

###