Friday, July 12, 2019

Congress Must Assert Its Article I Powers Above The President

Bipartisan efforts to assert the legislative branch's war powers is a welcomed start.

The Democratic Party-led House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would limit President Donald Trump's ability to levy an attack on the nation of Iran without first going to Congress for approval.

The amazing part is not so much that Democrats are insisting that the president get their approval first — in this day and age, it's somewhat expected that Democratic lawmakers put a stronger check on the president's powers. After all, that's what they were elected to do, in part, in the 2018 midterm elections.

But what's spectacular, and rare nowadays, is that dozens of Republicans in the House joined Democrats in voting for the NDAA amendment as well.

"If my war-hungry colleagues — some of whom have already suggested that we invade Venezuela, North Korea, and probably a few other countries before lunch time tomorrow — if they’re so certain in their case against Iran, let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), a normally staunch, pro-Trump conservative, said, per reporting from The Hill.

Indeed, 27 Republicans in total crossed the aisle to join Democrats in voting for the amendment.

It's a necessary protection: Congress, and Congress alone, has the Constitutional duty to declare war. Yet Trump's rhetoric in recent days suggests he really wants to start a conflict with Tehran.

"Iran better be careful. They're treading on very dangerous territory. Iran if you listening, you better be careful," Trump said, USA Today reported on Friday.

Such temperament and disregard for his position in U.S. government warrant strict checks on Trump's powers.

This is a president who thinks that the laws do not apply to him — that the Constitutional checks and balances that limit his powers are meaningless. Speaking about the Mueller investigation earlier on Friday, Trump explained that Article II of the Constitution gave him "all of these rights at a level that nobody has seen before" — as if he's the only one who has ever been allowed to use them.
That kind of hubris is precisely why Trump should have never been selected to lead in the first place. It's why the American people should reject his candidacy in 2020.

And it's why Congress absolutely must assert its own powers, found in the Article of the Constitution that precedes the president's, to deny him the opportunity to start a war.

Featured image credit: JamesDeMers/Pixabay