WASHINGTON – Tensions with Iran are lowering after President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday, indicating that both the US and Iran are standing down. Hours later Congress was briefed on the situation and now some lawmakers are trying to limit the president's war powers should Iran strike again.
The House of Representatives passed a measure to do that on Thursday.
It comes as new video shows Iran's missile attack targeting US troops at two bases in Iraq Tuesday, and new satellite images reveal the extensive damage.
The chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told reporters the missiles were meant "to kill personnel." Fortunately though, no American or coalition forces died. Trump says it's proof that the US military's early warning system worked and that Iran may be de-escalating now.
In his Wednesday address, Trump called for new sanctions against the regime.
"We do not want to use (the military)," said Trump. "American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent."
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, it was a duel of words between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over the president's decision to target Iran's General Qasem Soleimani and attempts to limit the president's ability to respond to future attacks from Iran.
"For our part, I certainly hope our own congressional delegations do not give Tehran a reason to question our national will," McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Schumer responded by criticizing Trump's leadership. "I'm afraid that these impulsive and erratic actions, throughout the world, are making us less safe," he said.
Senators briefed by the administration's national security team came out of the meeting with mixed reaction.
"It was very well done," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told reporters. "I think they've done an excellent job of outlining the rationale behind both the decision to go after Soleimani and the response to the Iranian attack."
Democrats though, and even some other Republicans, disagreed. "It is a far cry from meeting a standard of imminent threat," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Republican Sen. Mike Lee (UT) called it "the worst briefing" he'd seen on a military issue in his nine-year Senate tenure. He and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) both vowed to vote with Democrats to limit the president's war powers.
But Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News that the intelligence was solid. "The leadership in Congress in the House and Senate has seen this intelligence, and frankly the most compelling intelligence to support the fact that there was an imminent attack being developed by Qasem Soleimani was is freankly too sensitive to share broadly, it woud compromise what we call sources and methods."
The Senate will vote next week.
Meanwhile, the House passed its resolution Thursday, making it clear that if the president wants to go to war, he must first get the approval of Congress.
Iran says their attack is the end of it, but analysts believe there are more on the way, including possible cyber attacks, and they've issued a warning to law enforcement agencies throughout the country.