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Warhawks in Congress Hail Yemen Strike; Small Minority Assert U.S. Constitution

Statements of support for the bombing of Yemen abounded from leaders of the House and Senate, Democrat and Republican alike. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) praised Biden’s “precise action,” while Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-RI), called the strikes “necessary and proportional.”

Various Republicans hope that the bombing of Iran and its so-called “proxies” will follow—bringing on an even bigger war. Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell welcomed “President Biden’s decision to use military force against these Iranian proxies. I am hopeful,” he added, that “these operations mark an enduring shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies.” Mississippi’s rabid Sen. Roger Wicker, notorious for his 2022 call for nuking Russia, raved that “this strike should be a warning to the Houthis and other Iranian proxies that they will suffer catastrophic consequences from escalation in the region.”

Saner voices are being raised, however, by the small, but bipartisan group in Congress who have been speaking out in past months against never-ending funding for Ukraine and never-ending wars. They remember that the U.S. Constitution specifies that only Congress can declare war—and Congress was not advised of these Yemen strikes until, by some press accounts, 30 minutes before.

From the Democratic side: California Rep. Ro Khanna said that “the President needs to come to Congress before launching a strike against the Houthis in Yemen and involving us in another Middle East conflict. That is Article I of the Constitution. I will stand up for that regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) called the strikes an “unacceptable violation of the Constitution. Article 1 requires that military action be authorized by Congress.” She told Politico that the administration argues that Houthi attacks on the ships were an attack on the United States, so it had to respond, but “if there’s time to build an international coalition, there should have been time to come to Congress.”

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) stated: “POTUS can’t launch airstrikes in Yemen without congressional approval. This is illegal…. The people do not want more of our taxpayer dollars going to endless war and the killing of civilians. Stop the bombing and do better by us.”

Rep. Val Hoyle of Oregon: “The Constitution is clear.… Every President must first come to Congress and ask for military authorization, regardless of party.”

Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado: “I would not support us being pulled into a broader war.”

There are Republican voices in this camp, too, such as Kentucky’s Rep. Thomas Massie, who wrote that “only Congress has the power to declare war. I have to give credit to Rep. Ro Khanna here for sticking to his principles, as very few are willing to make this statement while their party is in the White House.” Likewise, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, insisted: “The Constitution matters, regardless of party affiliation.”