1118 GMT August 19, 2019
Next up is a proposal that would bar Trump from launching a military strike against Iran, which supporters predicted would pass in a vote set for Friday.
The twin legislative actions represent a new level of congressional push back against Trump's foreign policy, as Democrats use their House majority to rebuke the president over his aggressive stance toward Iran and his cozy ties with Saudi Arabia, USA Today reported.
Both amendments are being considered as part of a broader defense bill. The Senate approved its version of the defense bill last month without those contentious add-ons. The two chambers will have to reconcile the competing versions in the coming weeks.
Trump has already vetoed a stand-alone bill to end the US role in Yemen. He argued it was "an unnecessary, dangerous attempt" to weaken his constitutional power.
GOP lawmakers also argued that America's current role in Yemen – which involves providing logistical, intelligence and targeting assistance to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – does not amount to using American military force.
But supporters of the Yemen measure rejected that argument and noted that the Saudi-led coalition has caused thousands of civilian casualties with their US-assisted bombing campaign. They hailed Thursday's 240-to-185 vote as a pivotal step toward reclaiming Congress' war-making powers and ending a horrific conflict that has sparked the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
According to a data recently unveiled by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), almost 100,000 people have been killed since 2015 as the Yemen war rages on.
The conflict triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst existing humanitarian crisis.
"The only way to prevent the starvation of millions of Yemenis is to end the war," Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a chief sponsor of the amendment, said in a tweet. "The US cannot be an effective broker for peace if it continues to arm and militarily support on side of the conflict. This is how we reassert Congress’ role in matters of war & peace."
Khanna is also a key backer of the Iran amendment, which would bar the Trump administration from using any federal funds for military force "in or against" the Islamic Republic. Democrats and some Republicans have become alarmed by Trump's actions and rhetoric toward Iran.
Trump nearly bombed Iran last month after Tehran shot down a US military surveillance drone in its airspace. Although the president called off the strike at the last minute, he has since threatened Iran with “obliteration” and warned that the US would use “overwhelming force” if it attacked American assets or personnel.
Democrats say a war with Iran would be a prolonged and disastrous conflict – precisely the kind of “endless war” that Trump campaigned against in 2016.
Although the Iran measure is likely to pass the House, the GOP-held Senate rejected a similar proposal last month as that chamber debated its defense authorization bill.
The US-Iran tensions come as Tehran has stopped complying with key elements of the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump withdrew from that deal last year, saying it was not strict enough, and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
European leaders have tried to salvage the deal, but last week, Iran said it had started enriching uranium at higher levels.