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Biden Pentagon Denies It’s at War with Houthis, Despite Biden Submitting ‘War Powers’ Notifications to Congress

The Biden Pentagon is denying it is at war with the Iran-backed Houthi forces, even as President Joe Biden has submitted notifications of military action to Congress as require by the War Powers Resolution.

On January 18, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh was pressed by reporters if another round of U.S. military strikes against Houthi forces in Yemen meant that the U.S. was now at war with the Houthis. She, responded:

We are not at war with the Houthis. In terms of a definition, I think that would be more of a clear declaration from the United States.

However, Biden has submitted at least two notifications to Congress under the War Powers Resolution, which sets out the president’s reporting responsibilities on committing U.S. forces into hostilities “in the absence of a declaration of war.”

The War Powers Resolution requires the president to submit a report notifying Congress within 48 hours of introducing armed forces into “hostilities or situations where hostilities are imminent” and explaining why it was necessary, the constitutional and legislative authorities for doing so, and the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

The resolution also requires the president to provide information Congress may need to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities “with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.”

On Wednesday, January 22, 2024, Biden notified Congress after the U.S. and the U.K. conducted another round of military strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, in response to the Houthis firing missiles at U.S. and commercial vessels in the Red Sea since October.

Biden wrote:

I directed this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and to conduct United States foreign relations. The United States took this necessary and proportionate action consistent with international law and in the exercise of the United States’ inherent right of self-defense as reflected in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks.

He added, “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.”

Prior to that, Biden submitted another notification to Congress on January 12, 2024, with the same justification.

The Biden administration has claimed they are taking the strikes in “self-defense,” even though when the strikes first began, defense officials claimed that the Houthis were targeting commercial vessels and that it was not clear if they were targeting U.S. military ships. Over time, however, the U.S. military began stating that the Houthis were targeting U.S. military ships.

A group of Republican and Democrat senators have raised questions over Biden committing U.S. forces into military action without Congress’s authorization.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Todd Young (R-IN) wrote in a letter to Biden on January 23:

While the Houthis and their backers, namely Iran, bear the responsibility for escalation, unless there is a need to repel a sudden attack the Constitution requires that the United States not engage in military action absent a favorable vote of Congress.
We have long advocated for deliberate congressional processes in and authorizations for decisions that put servicemembers into harm’s way overseas. There is no current congressional authorization for offensive U.S. military action against the Houthis.

The senators also requested Biden provide more information about his administration’s justification and authorities, which he is required to do as outlined under the War Powers Resolution.

The Biden administration has taken the strikes against the Houthis despite Biden himself saying he does not think they will stop the Houthis from continuing to attack ships in the Red Sea.

Asked if the airstrikes in Yemen are working, Biden said on January 18, “Well, when you say ‘working,’ are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”

Defense officials on Monday argued that while the Houthis still had capability, airstrikes against the Houthis have “removed significant Houthi capability.”

“We definitely feel that the strikes we have taken, the strikes tonight, the January 11th strikes with the same coalition partners and a number of self-defense strikes against imminent threats that have taken place in the interim have removed significant Houthi capability,” a senior military official said during a background briefing to reporters.

Officials have declined to say exactly how much of the Houthis’ capabilities they believe have been removed.

The Biden administration has vowed that the strikes would continue.

In a sign the strikes against the Houthis will be part of a sustained operation, the Pentagon has named its operation targeting Houthis “Operation Poseidon Archer,” according to CNN.

There have also been two recent casualties stemming from U.S. military action against the Houthis.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Navy declared deceased two missing Navy SEALs who had taken part of a mission off the coast of Somalia to seize Iranian weapons on a ship headed to the Houthis.

The Pentagon has claimed the seizure mission was separate from the U.S. military operations targeting Houthi forces, as well as the U.S. military operations to accompany commercial ships in the Red Sea.

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