Washington – Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the reintroduction of bipartisan legislation to prohibit the United States from expending funds which could lead to war with Iran without express approval from Congress, as required by the Constitution. The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019 (S.1039) underscores that Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States grants Congress the sole power to declare war, and makes it clear that a preemptive attack against Iran is illegal under both the War Powers Act and the United States Constitution. The bill also affirms the United States’ ability to respond to an imminent military threat from Iran and defend U.S. citizens who may come under threat of physical harm.
The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019 restores to Congress the sole power to declare war by prohibiting any funding for an unauthorized attack on Iran, thereby blocking the president from provoking an unnecessary military conflict in the Middle East. The legislation is being reintroduced at a critical juncture – amid reports that the U.S. is once again considering imposing additional sanctions against Iran in May.
“The calls for war with Iran are ripped straight out of the same playbook that launched us into the failed invasion of Iraq, and Congress must assert its constitutional authority to halt the march to war. The ongoing saber-rattling inches us closer and closer to conflict, borrowing from the same playbook that launched us into the failed invasion of Iraq, and endangering our national security, jeopardizing our diplomatic interests and alarming our allies. The consequences of war with Iran would be catastrophic, risking the lives of thousands of Americans while squandering our global reputation, with little chance of improving our long-term security,” said Udall. “Congress must assert its constitutional authority to halt the march to war . The only way to stop Iran’s dangerous behavior in the region is with tough diplomacy in league with our allies, not threats and reckless aggression. With this legislation, we can empower Congress to once again assert its Constitutional authority to end the looming threat of war in order to make our nation, and the world, more safe. No administration, Democratic or Republican, should be permitted to enter the United States into another war in the Middle East without the approval of the American people and explicit authorization from Congress.”
“Regardless of what political party occupies the White House, I have long argued that Constitution is clear that the power to declare war rests only with Congress. The Founding Fathers were wise to say that any decision to send American troops to war would be up to the elected representatives of the American people, and not the executive branch of government,” Durbin said. “With rising tensions in Iran, this bill would ensure we don’t begin an unconstitutional conflict.”
The legislation has earned the support of a broad coalition of organizations, including VoteVets, JStreet and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
In addition to Feinstein, Udall, Durbin and Paul, the bill is co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
The full text of the bill is available here.