Pelosi: Slotkin to lead bid to limit Trump's actions in Iran

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan's Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin will lead an effort in the U.S. House seeking to limit President Donald Trump’s actions in Iran several days after the president ordered a U.S. airstrike that killed a key Iranian general. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the “War Powers Resolution” in a letter to Democratic colleagues Sunday and noted Slotkin is a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst who specialized in Shia militias and served tours in the region. 

The resolution will be introduced and voted on this week, the speaker said. 

“It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days,” Pelosi said. 

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

Slotkin, D-Holly, was among four Michigan Democrats and one independent who expressed concern last week that Congress didn’t authorize the use of power against Iran before the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. The specialized unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards conducts terrorist activities outside the country and has been linked to planting improvised explosive devices in Iraq that have killed U.S. troops. 

"What always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself was the simple question: Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict?" Slotkin said last week. 

The Michigan Republican Party criticized Slotkin in a Monday statement, arguing that Trump “rightfully used his power” to eliminate someone “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service members.”

“By trying to limit President Trump's powers to deal with such terrorists, Nancy Pelosi and Elissa Slotkin are sending a dangerous message to our enemies overseas and turning their backs on the victims Soleimani left in his wake,” Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox said in a statement.

It is too early to say what, if any, effect Slotkin's role in the House resolution will play in her bid for reelection, said David Dulio, professor of political science and director of Oakland University's Center for Civic Engagement.

There are too many elements in play, such as Iran's vowed retaliation, the White House's contention that the airstrike was legal under a prior congressional authorization and the current lack of a well-known Republican challenger, he said.

But the role is "significant," the professor said, and perhaps a nod toward Slotkin's handling of her decision to support impeachment, explaining her reasoning in guest commentaries, media scrums and boisterous town halls.

"She could handle the stage," Dulio said. "She could handle the spotlight, and I think the speaker is looking to her for another one of those instances.”

Slotkin did not comment Monday on Pelosi’s announcement but took to social media to express concerns about a resolution the Iraqi parliament passed Sunday that rejects U.S. military presence in Iraq.

The decision threatens the U.S.’s efforts “to counterbalance Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East” and the country’s effort to keep ISIS from regenerating in the area, she said. 

“If we do indeed get officially asked to leave Iraq, we will need robust diplomacy to outline a plan with the Iraqi government that maximizes pressure on ISIS and allows us time to safely withdraw in a way that doesn’t cost the U.S. in blood and treasure,” Slotkin said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, accused Democrats of using their "distaste" for Trump to try to divide Americans after the president acted against Iran's aggression, which included an attack by Iran-backed militia at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.  

"Can we not maintain a shred, just a shred of national unity for five minutes before deepening the partisan trenches?...," McConnell said in a Monday floor speech. "Could we at least remember we're all Americans first, and we're all in this together?"

As Democrats and Republicans sparred on the issue, the Iraqi consulate general in Detroit said Sunday on its Facebook page that it is opening a "register of condolences to the lives of the martyrs who have fallen as a result of the recent American raids in Iraq." Those interested can sign it Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. at the consulate building located at 16445 W. 12 Mile in Southfield, according to the Facebook statement.

The consulate general did not put out a similar statement on its website.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister has met with the U.S. ambassador to say cooperation is key to prevent “sliding towards an open war” between the U.S. and Iran.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the United States also must work with Iraq to bring about the withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi soil.

He told U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller on Monday that relations with Washington must be built on a “sound basis.”

The vote to oust the 5,200 American troops, which still requires the approval of the Iraqi government, highlighted the sharp deterioration in relations between Washington and Baghdad in recent weeks, amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

It was not clear what steps Abdul-Mahdi would take following the parliament’s vote. Experts were split on whether, as a resigned prime minister, he has the authority to request the termination of the U.S. presence.

Detroit News Staff Writer Sarah Rahal and Associated Press contributed.