June 24, 2019
Not only did President Donald Trump not seek ratification from Congress for a military strike on Iran on June 21—but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Friday that she had not even been informed of the administration’s plans for retaliation against the Islamic Republic.
The White House cancelled its plans ten minutes before the action, with planes already in the air. The president explained that he had halted the military action because it would have resulted in a “disproportionate” number of Iranian casualties after no Americans were killed in that nation’s strike on a U.S. drone on June 20.
Just a couple of days earlier, the House had voted to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force—however, the bill had not yet received approval from the Senate, so the president was not clearly obligated to ask for Congressional ratification.
However, Politico reported, Pelosi is second in line to the presidency, and as a formal courtesy, would traditionally have been informed of the contemplated action.
Indeed, the news outlet noted, conventionally, House and Senate leadership, and chair and ranking members on the national security-related and other key committees are told about an imminent U.S. military action.
Some effort was made to keep them in the loop: Senior lawmakers were briefed at the White House about how the United States planned to respond to the drone incident on Thursday afternoon, but no set plans were made at that time.
In a formal statement Friday, Pelosi warned, “We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran. We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.
“During our meeting with the President at the White House,” she added, “Congressional Leaders stressed the necessity that we work with our allies and not strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners. Democratic Leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.
Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi