House approves measure to restrain Trump’s actions on Iran

President Donald Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Washington. (AP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

House approves measure to restrain Trump’s actions on Iran

WASHINGTON: Reigniting a debate over who has the power to declare war, the Democratic-controlled House on Thursday approved a resolution asserting that President Donald Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran.
The war powers resolution is not binding on the president and would not require his signature. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nonetheless insisted it “has real teeth” because “it is a statement of the Congress of the United States.”
The measure will “protect American lives and values” by limiting Trump’s military actions, Pelosi said. “The administration must de-escalate and must prevent further violence.”
The House passed the measure, 224-194, with just three Republicans voting in support. Eight Democrats opposed the measure.
A similar proposal by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, faces an uphill fight in the GOP-run Senate. Kaine’s efforts received a boost Thursday as Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, an ex-Marine, said he might support the war powers measure. Two other Republican senators said Wednesday they would back Kaine’s plan.
“We are members of a separate and distinct branch of government. It is our duty not to take anyone’s word for things as we are dealing with matters of life and death,” Young said, adding that he wished Trump administration officials had provided more intelligence information during a briefing Wednesday on a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.
Pelosi, in announcing the House vote, called the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani “provocative and disproportionate.”
Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalize, the No. 2 House Republican, denounced the Democratic measure as little more than “a press release designed to attack President Trump,” while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called it a ”meaningless vote” on a measure that will never be sent to the president or “limit his constitutional authority to defend the American people.”
The House vote came a day after the Trump administration briefed lawmakers on its actions in Iran. Democrats and several Republicans called the briefings inadequate, adding that officials did not provide enough details about why the attack was justified.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that Soleimani “was traveling the region making plans to bring an attack against American personnel and American forces.” He said it was not possible to share full details of the intelligence with lawmakers.
“When it comes to intelligence we have to protect sources and methods, there’s only certain amount we can share with every member of Congress,” Pence said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But those of us who have seen all the evidence know that there was a compelling case of imminent threat against American personnel.”
Trump said Thursday that he “had calls from numerous senators and numerous congressmen and women saying it was the greatest presentation they’ve ever had.”
Referring to criticism by GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul, Trump said: “They want information that honestly I think is very hard to get. ... It really had to do with sources and information that we had that really should remain at a very high level.”


Lebanese applaud virus-battling health workers from balconies

Updated 32 min 48 sec ago

Lebanese applaud virus-battling health workers from balconies

  • The initiative was spread online with the Arabic hashtag "a cheer for the heroes"

BEIRUT: Cheering erupted from balconies and windows in Lebanon on Sunday evening, as the country's citizens celebrated their "heroic" medical workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative spread online with the Arabic hashtag "a cheer for the heroes", shared by public figures including journalists, actors and the Arab pop star Ragheb Alama.
In one Beirut neighbourhood, a woman draped in a Lebanese flag sang the national anthem as her neighbours drummed on pots and pans, an AFP journalist said.


Elsewhere, Lebanese played drums and blew vuvuzelas, sharing videos of the street performances online.
Similar initiatives have gained attention from Italy to France but they have remained rare in the Arab world.
Lebanon has reported 438 COVID-19 cases to date, with 10 deaths.
To try to contain the spread of the virus, Lebanon has imposed isolation measures on its population until April 12, with a nighttime curfew in effect. Schools, universities, restaurants and bars are closed.
Many fear the country's healthcare system could be overwhelmed by cases.