The Kansas delegation to the U.S. House split along party lines on a nonbinding resolution declaring President Donald Trump must secure approval from Congress before engaging in military action against Iran in wake of the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, of the rural 1st District and a candidate for U.S. Senate; U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, of the 2nd District in eastern Kansas; and U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, of the 4th District anchored by Wichita, voted in opposition to the war powers resolution considered a rebuke of the president. Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, of the 3rd District covering Johnson and Wyandotte counties, voted to support the resolution adopted Thursday on a vote of 224-194.
A similar measure was introduced in the U.S. Senate, which appears to have support from a few Republicans in that chamber. The resolutions are not binding on the president.
Marshall said the resolution would restrict Trump's ability as commander in chief to defend the country from international threats.
"If you are a known terrorist who has brutally murdered hundreds of our soldiers and is actively planning to kill more Americans, our leaders have the authority to stop that threat," Marshall said. "We are all safer today because of President Trump’s decision."
Davids said the missile strike that killed Soleimani at a Baghdad airport was ordered "without a clear and coherent strategy for how to deal with the aftermath of such a major escalation."
"It was also conducted without the consultation of Congress, and I have yet to see the administration demonstrate to Congress that there was an imminent threat," she said.
Watkins, who faces a primary challenger in his bid for re-election, said it would be unacceptable for Congress to tie the hands of a president. He said a fellow West Point graduate was killed in an attack that he attributed to Soleimani.
"I understand action leads to risk, but inaction leads to more risk in the long run," the congressman said.
Estes said Trump operated within his authority under a 2002 authorization for use of military force. He said the lawful action sent a message to Iran the United States would defend anyone working to harm Americans or the country's allies.
"The resolution brought forward today by House Democrats is not binding, but seeks to undermine the ability of the president to protect national security while sending a message of division and weakness to our adversaries like Iran," he said.