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Cori Bush: Lawmakers’ Warmongering Against Iran Is “Blatantly Unconstitutional”

“We cannot let the warmongers win; our country and our world are calling for restraint,” said Rep. Cori Bush.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) (C) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) hold up signs as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 07, 2024.

In the wake of a series of retaliatory attacks launched by Iran on Saturday after Israel killed 16 people in a bombing of Iran’s embassy in Syria earlier this month, progressive lawmakers in the U.S. are warning fellow lawmakers against calling for a war against Iran — and instead are calling for an immediate ceasefire “on all sides” as Israel’s aggression in Palestine and beyond is causing conflict across the Middle East.

A handful of House progressives, including Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-New York), Cori Bush (D-Missouri), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Barbara Lee (D-California) and Summer Lee (D-Pennsylvania), called for the Biden administration and members of Congress to support de-escalation efforts after Iran’s attacks. They warned that the American electorate does not want another protracted war in the Middle East and that any support for escalation will be disastrous for countless people in an already extremely unstable region.

“As leaders in Washington jump to call for war with Iran and rush additional offensive weapons to the Israeli military, we need to exercise restraint and use every diplomatic tool to de-escalate tensions,” said Omar in a statement released Sunday. “Civilians in not only Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, and Iran but also Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are bearing the brunt of this escalation, and there must be a ceasefire on all sides.”

“It is clearer than ever that Benjamin Netanyahu’s warmongering is putting the lives of millions of civilians at risk, including the Israeli people,” said Bowman. “The collective punishment leveled against the Palestinian people as well as Israeli military actions in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq have created a dangerous powder keg that threatens to become a regional war. Netanyahu is willing to endanger the lives of millions just to draw the U.S. deeper into a conflict whose flame he fans.”

The lawmakers say they agree with President Joe Biden’s call for de-escalation in the region. After Iran’s attacks — which the government says were aimed at military targets and reportedly injured one person, a 7-year-old child — Biden recommitted to his support of Israel, but said that the U.S. would not support further attacks from Israel against Iran.

“Our aim is to de-escalate regional tensions,” one official told The Washington Post, failing to mention that the U.S. bears outsized responsibility for Israel’s genocide.

Critics say that stopping the spread of hostilities would require the U.S. to end its support of Israel amid its genocidal assault of Gaza and its violence in the West Bank, Lebanon, and beyond — something the administration has shown no interest in doing. As The Intercept noted on Sunday, Israel’s conflict now involves 16 countries and in fact has already seen heavy involvement from the U.S., with military aid to Israel as well as direct military support through actions like U.S. troops’ engagement against Houthi forces and the people of Yemen.

Meanwhile, war hawks in Congress were extremely quick to call for war against Iran after its attacks on Israel, with some politicians claiming that the attacks were “unprovoked” despite Israel’s embassy bombing.

“[President Joe Biden] — we must move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) wrote in a post on social media.

“[Iran] must be held accountable for the aggression it has long shown toward Israel not only directly but also indirectly through proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York) in a post, sweeping aside Israel and the U.S.’s widespread aggression in the region.

Bush condemned such warmongering statements, saying they were clearly calling for a war that has not been authorized by Congress.

“I condemn [Israel’s and Iran’s] attacks, which threaten civilian lives and regional war. I also condemn the calls by Members of Congress and others to initiate war with Iran; to do so without Congressional authorization is blatantly unconstitutional,” Bush said in a statement. “We cannot let the warmongers win; our country and our world are calling for restraint, de-escalation, a lasting ceasefire, and diplomacy. Our government must listen. That is how we save lives.”