Senior US senators want Congress to authorize strikes against Houthis

By Thomson Reuters Feb 27, 2024 | 2:05 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two senior U.S. Democratic senators said on Tuesday they believe that President Joe Biden should seek congressional authorization for the military action against Houthi targets in Yemen, with one lawmaker saying such legislation was being worked on.

“The Constitution requires Congress to authorize acts of war. … We swore an oath to follow the Constitution. If we believe this is a just military action and I do, then we should authorize it,” Senator Chris Murphy, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East subcommittee, said at a hearing looking at the military action.

Murphy said he would be in talks with his colleagues to introduce such an authorization.

Senator Ben Cardin, who chairs the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said the Biden administration should be seeking congressional authorization.

“The administration should be seeking our authority. It’s our responsibility to respond,” Cardin said.

The United States has been carrying out near-daily strikes against the Iran-linked Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen and have said their attacks on shipping are in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel strikes Gaza.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that its strikes, which started in January, have so far destroyed or degraded 150 missiles and launchers along with radars, weapons storage areas and drones.

The strikes have so far failed to halt the Houthis’ attacks, which have upset global trade and raised shipping rates.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the right to authorize war, but provisions in U.S. law give the White House the authority to launch limited foreign military action.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Idrees Ali and Jonathan Landay; editing by Jonathan Oatis)