Steve King's against tying a president's hands on war--unless it's Obama

The U.S. House voted on January 9 to block further military action against Iran without express authorization from Congress.

In a written statement, Representative Steve King (IA-04) thundered against what he called “bad legislation that seeks to tie the President’s hands,” adding,

I stand with letting President Trump, our Commander-in-Chief, make the tough calls and take the swift and certain actions that he determines are necessary to protect our nation, our citizens, and our interests from Iranian acts of hostility.

King was singing a different tune when House members of both parties passed a similar resolution in 2011 to limit President Barack Obama’s military engagement in Libya.

Democrats introduced House Concurrent Resolution 83 after Trump administration officials finally briefed members of Congress about a strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The president didn’t notify members of Congress in advance of the action, which could spark a rapid military escalation in the region.

The resolution directs Trump under the 1973 War Powers Act “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran,” unless Congress has expressly authorized such action, or it “is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack” on U.S. territories or military assets.

House members approved the resolution by 224 votes to 194, with all but eight Democrats in favor and all but three Republicans against (roll call). Iowa Democrats Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) supported it.

King spread the news of his vote in a press release titled, “King Stands with Commander-in-Chief Trump Against House Democrats’ Attempt to Tie President’s Hands on Iran.” With typical over-the-top rhetoric, he mused,

House Democrats might want to send the Iranians pallets of cash like President Appeaser-In-Chief Obama did, but I stand with letting President Trump, our Commander-in-Chief, make the tough calls and take the swift and certain actions that he determines are necessary to protect our nation, our citizens, and our interests.”

When President Barack Obama intervened in Libya in 2011, King expressed a more robust view of Congressional authority to constrain a president’s use of the military. Then House Speaker John Boehner introduced a resolution “Declaring that the President shall not deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya.” It passed with votes from 223 Republicans and 45 Democrats.

All three Iowa Democrats serving in the House at that time–Loebsack, Bruce Braley (IA-01), and Leonard Boswell (IA-03)–joined King (IA-05) and fellow Republican Tom Latham (IA-04) to support Boehner’s resolution. In a written statement, King said he voted for the measure because “Neither the American people nor Congress can be expected to support an engagement about which they have been given no substantive information regarding its objectives, costs, or consequences.”

King: The President Owes Americans Answers on Libya

Jun 3, 2011
Press Release
King supports House Resolution to Require Detailed Report from President Regarding U.S. Involvement in Libya

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after voting in favor of a resolution introduced by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to require President Obama to provide Congress with a detailed description of the national security interests that justify American military involvement in Libya and to provide information about the objectives, scope, anticipated duration, cost, and diplomatic implications of our military involvement there. The resolution also requires the President to provide Congress with detailed information about the Libyan opposition rebels who have risen up to challenge the dictatorial rule of Moammar Gadhafi. The Boehner resolution, H. Res. 292, passed the House of Representatives this afternoon by a vote of 268-145-1.

“Neither the American people nor Congress can be expected to support an engagement about which they have been given no substantive information regarding its objectives, costs, or consequences, ” said King. “Speaker Boehner’s resolution reflects this principle by requiring the President to make the case for his decision to commit our armed forces to combat operations in Libya. The resolution requires that the President produce for Congress information about the scope of our military involvement, the implications of it, and the goals that are to be achieved. We agree that we are against Gadhafi, but the President has not made the case as to who the rebels that we are supporting actually are, and what kind of government they would bring about. Today’s House vote will put added pressure on the President to make his case to the American people.”

King’s flip-flop is hardly surprising. The self-styled “constitutional conservative” tends to see overreach only in the actions of Democratic presidents.

Proclaiming his allegiance to Trump in the face of Democratic attacks is also a key aspect of King’s re-election strategy as he faces multiple Republican primary challengers in Iowa’s fourth district. King was the only Iowan to speak on the House floor during last month’s debate over articles of impeachment.

I enclose below the full statements from King and Axne about today’s vote. Finkenauer and Loebsack did not comment publicly on the resolution. I will update as needed if their staff respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiry.


January 9 news release from Representative Steve King, with emphasis in original:

King Stands with Commander-in-Chief Trump Against House Democrats’ Attempt to Tie President’s Hands on Iran

House Democrats might want to send the Iranians pallets of cash like President Appeaser-In-Chief Obama did, but I stand with letting President Trump, our Commander-in-Chief, make the tough calls and take the swift and certain actions that he determines are necessary to protect our nation, our citizens, and our interests.” 

Washington D.CCongressman Steve King releases the following statement after voting AGAINST H. Con. Res 83, a resolution introduced by House Democrats that seeks to limit President Trump’s ability to use military force in response to hostile provocations from Iran. The timing of the House Democrats’ resolution follows a key military and policy victory for President Trump, in which he directed the killing of the “world’s top terrorist,” Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani has the blood of at least 600 American soldiers on his hands, and both President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have stated that he was actively plotting a terror campaign that further placed American lives at risk. H. Con. Res. 83 passed the House of Representatives today on a vote of 224-194, with King voting AGAINST the legislation.

“President Trump recognizes a sober fact that many of the previous Presidential administrations wanted to ignore: Iran has been in a state of war with us since they took over our embassy in 1979, and they have never been held truly accountable for their continued actions against Americans,” said King. “Leave it to House Democrats, so consumed with hatred for this President, to increasingly bemoan the death of the world’s top terrorist and to introduce bad legislation that seeks to tie the President’s hands should a similar order need to be given in the future. President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have both said that Soleimani was planning additional, imminent attacks, and I support President Trump’s bold decision to take him out. House Democrats might want to send the Iranians pallets of cash like President Appeaser-in-Chief Obama did, but I stand with letting President Trump, our Commander-in-Chief, make the tough calls and take the swift and certain actions that he determines are necessary to protect our nation, our citizens, and our interests from Iranian acts of hostility.”

Statement released by Representative Cindy Axne on January 9:

“First and foremost, my priority is ensuring Americans at home and serving our country abroad remain safe. As I have monitored the ongoing tensions with Iran, I have prayed for a resolution that does not bring harm to our citizens.

As we consider the future of Iran, I know the world is now a safer place without Soleimani. I also believe that the consequences of an open war with Iran are too great to rest solely with a single branch of government. A decision to go to war will always impact Americans, and Congress must use its voice.

The President’s role as Commander in Chief is vital to keeping our military’s ability to address threats around the world, and this resolution does not limit the President’s ability to respond to these threats. It is the Constitution that gives Congress the sole power to declare war to allow for serious and thoughtful consideration of any prolonged commitment of American servicemembers. Iowans deserve to know where their elected officials stand during these times. That is why I voted today to honor the checks and balances required by the Constitution and ensure Iowa has a voice in any decision to declare war with Iran.

Iowa is home to more than 225,000 veterans, and since September 11th more than 19,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen have been called up and deployed to defend our country around the world. As a mother of two sons, I am always thinking of the Iowa mothers and fathers whose children have served and sacrificed their lives for our country.

Their sacrifice demands we all treat any decision to commit U.S. troops with the utmost care and thorough contemplation.

Let me be very clear: the resolution I supported today specifically ensures that our military is not constrained from evaluating imminent threats, responding in self-defense, and protecting Americans through preemptive strikes against those who might intend to do us harm. Our armed forces spend every day assessing the security of our country and its citizens, and should remain able to make immediate strategic decisions in the face of danger.”

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