This month, the tension between the United States and Iran escalated to the brink of war. The situation has drawn attention to the president’s power to use military force.
KSMU’s Jennifer Moore spoke with Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri's 4th District, which covers parts of western and central Missouri, including Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. You can click the “Play” icon below to hear the interview.
On January 2nd, President Donald Trump ordered a military strike that killed an Iranian general while he was in Iraq, Qassem Soleimani. Conflict then escalated, with Iran firing missiles on an Iraqi military base that housed U.S. troops. The House of Representatives then approved a resolution that would force the president to seek consent from Congress before taking more military action against Iran.
Hartzler voted against that resolution.
“The president clearly, in the Constitution, has authority to do limited actions in order to save the lives of American troops. And that was the situation here,” she said, adding that Soleimani posed an “imminent threat” to US lives and was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 Americans.
As for voting against the resolution that limited the president’s further actions in Iran, Hartzler said the concurrent resolution did not have the effect of law and was “clearly just a messaging, political tool of the Democrats.”
She also felt the timing of the resolution was rushed, she said.
“Not only was it brought forward for a vote within 24 hours of this action, with no hearings, with no discussion, but also it sent, I felt, a very wrong message to Iran,” Hartzler said.
When asked about limits to a president’s power to authorize military strikes, or commit troops to a conflict zone, she said a president “can’t declare war,” a right that belongs to Congress.
Many of the major conflicts that the US has engaged in, including the Vietnam War, have not included a formal declaration of war.
“I do think we do need to probably look at an updated Authorization of Use of Military Force, AUMF, for any future, long conflict that may arise. But at this point, there is no long, armed conflict with Iran,” Hartzler said.
This was a “one-time strike to protect our citizens,” she said, and the United States will continue to keep ISIS at bay and provide stability and opportunity for the people in that region.
Hartzler’s challenger in this year’s election, Democrat Lindsay Simmons, said she was “deeply concerned” that President Trump acted without the support of Congress or international allies in striking Soleimani. Simmons is married to an active-duty helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army.
Hours after Iran attacked the Iraqi base, President Trump announced that "no Americans were harmed."
But the Pentagon said this week that 50 US service members have since been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of the Iranian missile attack.
The Pentagon said that TBI and concussion symptoms can manifest days after an attack.
Editorial note: our interview was recorded the week of January 13, but its broadcast was delayed due to our station’s special coverage of the impeachment proceedings.