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DeFazio Leads Way in Congress on Iran


Summary of Amendments Submitted by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to H.R. 5122, the Fiscal Year 2007 Department of Defense Authorization Act

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The DeFazio amendment would prohibit any funds authorized by the bill from being used to take military action against Iran except (1) pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress (2) in accordance with specific statutory authorization by Congress or (3) to repel an armed attack by Iran on the U.S. or our armed forces, to retaliate for such an attack or to forestall the direct and imminent threat of such an attack.

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The DeFazio amendment establishes a statement of policy regarding the possible use of force against Iran. It says that Congress (1) strongly believes that initiating military action against Iran without congressional approval does not fall within the President's "Commander-in-Chief" powers under the Constitution (2) rejects any suggestion that the authorization of force resolution passed in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent resolution approved to invade Iraq either explicitly or implicitly authorize military action against Iran over its nuclear program (3) strongly and unequivocally believes seeking congressional authorization prior to taking military action against Iran is not discretionary, but is a legal and constitutional requirement. The text is based on H.Con.Res 391, introduced by Rep. DeFazio on April 26, 2006.

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The DeFazio amendment rewrites the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548) to reinforce Congress' constitutional authority to decide whether to send troops into battle. The amendment limits the instances in which military force can be used to only the following: (1) pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress (2) in accordance with specific statutory authorization by Congress (3) to repel an armed attack against the U.S. or our armed forces, to retaliate for such an attack or to forestall the direct and imminent threat of such an attack or (4) to protect U.S. citizens or nationals while evacuating them as rapidly as possible from a situation outside the United States that directly and imminently threatens their lives or liberty. The amendment also sets more stringent consultation and reporting requirements, provides for expedited congressional consideration of requests by the President to use military force, and grants Members of Congress standing to sue in the event the President violates this law and requires courts to rule on the merits rather than dismissing the case as a political question.

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