President Barack Obama won’t be able to send American troops back to Iraq in a "sustained combat role" without approval from Congress, according to a resolution passed by the House on Friday. It is a nonbinding measure that will have to be debated in the Senate, but in a demonstration of strong feeling about Congress's right to authorize the use of force, the legislation was approved by a 370-40 vote.
"This resolution makes one clear statement. If the president decides we should further involve our military in Iraq, he needs to work with Congress to authorize it,” said the resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
More than 800 American troops are currently in Iraq to shore up the shaky Baghdad government, but with the growing power of the Islamic State, there has been talk about sending additional U.S. manpower.
Over the course of the Iraq War starting in 2003, more than 4,400 Americans were killed; the financial cost was around $2 trillion.
"The time to debate our re-engagement in Iraq, should it come to that, is before we are caught in the heat of the moment," McGovern said. "Not when the first body bags come home. Not when the first bombs start to fall. Not when the worst-case scenario is playing out on our TV screens."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee met on Thursday to discuss the IS threat to U.S. national security.
“The situation in Iraq, I think, is dire now and I am not about to reinvest more lives and treasure,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., according to CNN. “The United States has sacrificed too much.”