LEGISLATION UPDATE: THE UDALL-KAINE AND KHANNA-GAETZ AMENDMENTS

Many closely followed the progress of the Udall-Kaine and Khanna-Gaetz bipartisan amendments to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sought to prevent an unauthorized war with Iran. Slightly staggered in procedural timing, both amendments passed the House in June and July, but also failed to pass in the Senate, and ultimately were not part of the NDAA reauthorization.

By way of reminder, the House amendment was led by U.S. Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA/17th district) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL/1st district). The Khanna-Gaetz amendment clarified that existing war authorities passed by Congress in the aftermath of 9/11 authorizing military action against al-Qaeda and related organizations are not legal justification for war with Iran. The amendment retained the president’s powers under the War Powers Resolution, which allows the president to go to war in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” The Khanna-Gaetz amendment passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with a final 250-170 tally.

The Udall-Kaine amendment would have prohibited taxpayer dollars from being used for military operations against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress, and had garnered bipartisan support in light of constitutional concerns with abdicating congressional authority to the executive branch. Although the Udall-Kaine amendment failed to pass with the necessary 60 Senate votes, a significant total of 50 Senators supported the amendment. Together, the amendments reflected strong bipartisan support for exhausting diplomatic options regarding Iran, and preserving congressional authority vis-à-vis the executive branch.

by USIRCC Staff

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