Matt Gaetz defends bipartisan plan to block Trump from using military force against Iran without congressional approval

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, typically a staunch supporter of President Trump, on Tuesday defended his bipartisan plan that would block the president from using military force against Iran without congressional approval.

“We’re against forever wars and we don’t think that any president should be able to keep the United States in war or any type of conflict beyond 60 days,” Gaetz, a Republican, told Fox News on Tuesday.

The Florida lawmaker teamed up with Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., to craft an amendment that would prevent federal funds from being used for any military force against Iran without congressional approval. Such a proposal could end the old authorizations Congress approved in 2001 to fight in Afghanistan and a 2002 blessing to invade Iraq. Three presidents, including Trump, have employed these Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) for military interventions spanning nearly two decades.

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Khanna and Gaetz introduced the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last month.

Khanna, unlike Gaetz, is known for his vocal opposition to the president. Trump, for his part, has said he has the authority under current law to launch strikes against Iran without congressional consent.

Gaetz told Fox News the amendment “would allow the president to defend our troops, defend our allies but after a couple of months he’d have to come back to Congress for approval.”

The amendment is expected to be considered later this week.

“Our amendment stands against the proposition of endless wars,” Gaetz said.

He added, “I don’t believe that a 2001 authorization to use military force is applicable in the year 2019 or beyond. I think we need to update the conditions and terms where we would send America’s bravest patriots into battle and I think we could do that here.”

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Many Republicans have opposed the amendment, arguing that it would tie the hands of the president.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said last month it was “unacceptable” for Iran to shoot down the American drone. But, when asked what the U.S. should do to retaliate, McCarthy replied that “the president will have options before him.”

McCarthy also said Trump “has the current authority” to wage war if necessary, based on the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Trump Administration needed to proceed with “measured responses.”

Gaetz told Fox News, “I represent the district that has the highest concentration of active duty military in the country, and so it’s my constituents who have to go first, fight hardest, and I have seen my entire life the impacts of these endless wars, the broken marriages, the interrupted parenting, the tough goodbyes at airports, the bargaining with God to get your loved ones back.”

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He continued, “And so, when we do go to war, my constituents will go, they’ll fight and they’ll win, but I want to make sure we’re at least going for the right reason and not just because this town seems to be kind of itching to go to war.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.