House explicitly counts out Iran war nod in bill


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives explicitly stated that tough measures it recommended for Iran in a major defense bill did not authorize war.

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran," said an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that directs defense spending, passed in the House on Friday.

The act includes substantive references to Iran, among them a "declaration of policy" that the United States shall "take all necessary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies, or Iran’s neighbors with a nuclear weapon."

It also authorizes combat assessments of Iran’s forces and sufficient forces in the Persian Gulf to face Iran.

A number of dovish groups, including several within the pro-Israel community, have been lobbying lawmakers to include explicit denials in various legislation that such proposals authorize war.

The amendment counting out a war authorization was initiated by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Walter Jones. (R-N.C.).

Americans for Peace Now and J Street praised the amendment’s inclusion.

"Having urged Congress since the inception of these Iran-related motions to clarify that they are not aimed at authorizing the use of force against Iran, we welcome the adoption of this amendment, as well as other important verbal statements," Ori Nir, APN’s spokesman, told JTA.

Dylan Williams, J Street’s director of government affairs, said the amendment "slams the brakes on those in Congress who would drive the United States toward a third war in the Middle East."

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