House approves defense bill limiting presidential authority to attack Iran
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House approves defense bill limiting presidential authority to attack Iran

The US House of Representatives approved an amendment to the defense bill for fiscal year 2020 on Friday that would require the president to obtain congressional approval before ordering a military strike against Iran.

The amendment passed 251-170, largely along party lines but with 27 Republican representatives signing on. The bill itself, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed by 220 to 197, without any Republican votes.

The amendment provides that federal funding may not be used for a military strike against Iran, unless the strike is in self-defense, or Congress has declared war or enacted a statute specifically authorizing such use of force. This measure comes amid increased tensions between the US and Iran. US President Donald Trump recently imposed increased economic sanctions against Iran and contemplated a retaliatory strike after an American drone was shot down by Iranian forces.

The House’s $733 billion defense bill includes other controversial measures such as provisions restricting funding for a border wall with Mexico,  limiting the number of detainees that may be held at the Guantanamo Bay military base and withdrawing US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The House bill will need to be reconciled with the Senate’s version of the bill, which allocates $17 billion more to the Pentagon and does not include the Iran amendment, before it proceeds to the president for approval.