June 18, 2019

Kaine & Lee Call On President Trump To Explain New Deployments To The Middle East, Warn Against War With Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) led a letter to President Trump calling on him to explain his recent decisions to deploy additional troops to the Middle East. In the letter, the Senators ask for more information on the troops’ mission and express concerns about escalating tensions leading to a war between the United States and Iran. The Senators underscore that the Trump Administration does not have the authority to start a war with Iran without authorization from Congress.

“We remain concerned that increasingly escalatory actions by both sides will lead to an unnecessary conflict. Given that growing risk, we want to reiterate that, as of this date, Congress has not authorized war with Iran and no current statutory authority allows the U.S. to conduct hostilities against the Government of Iran. To that end, we expect the administration to seek authorization prior to any deployment of forces into hostilities or areas where hostilities with Iran are imminent,” the Senators wrote.

Joining Kaine and Lee on the letter are Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

You can find text of the letter here and below: 

 

June 18, 2019

 

President Donald J. Trump

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington D.C., 20500

 

Dear President Trump,

We write in regard to your recent decision to deploy 900 U.S. troops into the Middle East and yesterday’s announcement of an additional 1,000 troops after attacks last week on two tankers in the Gulf. Reports indicate that these troops are to be joined by a Patriot missile battalion, reconnaissance aircraft, an engineering element, and a fighter-jet squadron. This new buildup follows the recent deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bomber task force to the region and recent comments by CENTCOM Commander McKenzie that the threat from Iran “is imminent.”

We have several questions pertaining to the nature of these deployments. Where are these armed forces expected to be deployed? What is the mission of these forces? Will these forces be conducting operations beyond protecting U.S. forces stationed in Iraq and maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters? Will these forces be used to apply pressure on Iran?  What is this new, specific imminent threat from Iran?

We remain concerned that increasingly escalatory actions by both sides will lead to an unnecessary conflict. Given that growing risk, we want to reiterate that, as of this date, Congress has not authorized war with Iran and no current statutory authority allows the U.S. to conduct hostilities against the Government of Iran. To that end, we expect the administration to seek authorization prior to any deployment of forces into hostilities or areas where hostilities with Iran are imminent. We further expect the administration to abide by the principles of legitimate self-defense and proportionality rather than escalate tensions absent congressional authorization. Article One, Section 8 of the United States Constitution provides Congress the exclusive power to declare war. It is critical that Congress fully retain and enforce this authority. 

We request a joint Defense, State and Intelligence Community briefing by the end of June to address these policy and legal issues. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,

 

 

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