House to vote this month on military force authorizations

By LINDSEY MCPHERSON | CQ-Roll Call | Published: January 14, 2020

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — House Democratic leaders committed to progressives Tuesday that the House will vote on legislation to prevent funds for unauthorized military force against Iran and to repeal the 2002 authorization of use of military force the week of Jan. 27.

The bills, sponsored by California Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee, respectively, will get separate votes, according to Khanna and Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal.

They said the text of the measures will be the same as the language from amendments Khanna and Lee offered and the House passed in July to its version of the annual defense authorization bill. The amendments were stripped out of the final version negotiated with the Senate.

“There are different people who support each one, and we want to make sure we’re preserving that so that nobody can say, ‘Well you changed it on us,’ ” Jayapal said.

There had been a possibility that leadership would bring the bills to the floor this week, but the decision was made not to because of concerns they wouldn’t get attention with news outlets focused on the House transferring the articles of impeachment to the Senate and preparations in that chamber for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer made the commitment for a vote the week after the House returns from its Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day recess during a meeting with Khanna, Lee and Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan.

“They both have a great point that we should do it when it will get maximum attention not to be swallowed up by the focus on impeachment and that we should be sending a clear message and we need to be building a majority, so I’m very impressed with their leadership and commitment on the issue,” Khanna said.

Jayapal was unable to attend the meeting because of a conflict with a committee markup but was briefed afterwards.

“With impeachment it’s a little bit tough to put it on the floor right now, but what we wanted was an ironclad commitment — not like a ‘we’ll try to put it on’ but an ironclad commitment that it would come on right after we get back — and that is what we got,” Jayapal said.

Khanna said he’s begun reaching out to the 27 Republicans who voted for his defense authorization amendment last year and hopes they will support his bill since the language is the same.

“They’ve already been on record voting for this,” he said.

Some Republicans, however, have already expressed plans not to back the bill now because they feel Democrats are only bringing the measures forward after Trump engaged in hostilities with Iran to score political points.

Of the 27 Republicans who voted for Khanna’s NDAA amendment, 14 also backed Lee’s amendment to repeal the 2002 AUMF. Some Republicans have seemed more open to voting for Lee’s measure as a standalone bill than Khanna’s since it’s not specifically about Iran and less likely to be interpreted as a judgment on Trump’s actions in regards to Tehran.

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