Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the president does not have the authority to go to war without Congress’ approval, contradicting a 2008 statement he made.
Speaking during the Democratic Debate, Biden was asked about the recent increased tensions with Iran. President Donald Trump ordered airstrikes that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a decision that was criticized because he did not seek approval from Congress beforehand.
Biden claimed that besides a direct attack on America, the “only way to take a nation to war was with informed consent of the American people.”
“I ran the first time as a 29-year-old kid against the war in Vietnam, on the grounds that only way to take a nation to war was with informed consent of the American people,” Biden said. “The informed consent of the American people.”
In 2008, Biden said that “It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens.”
The State Department said in a statement after the Soleimani killing that Soleimani had been plotting “imminent attacks” on Americans. Biden has criticized the Soleimani strike, despite the State Department’s statement about “imminent attacks” matching up with his beliefs in 2008.
On Tuesday, Biden appeared to flip-flop on his former belief that an “imminent attack” could be used to bypass Congress.
When Biden was Vice President under former President Barack Obama’s administration, Congress was also not asked multiple times before taking military action, Tuesday’s debate moderator noted.
Biden said that there was “authorization for the use of military force” but said it only gave them permission “to deal with these other issues,” not “to go into Iran.”
“No, there was the authorization for the use of military force that was passed by the United States Congress, House, and Senate and signed by the president,” according to Biden. “That was the authority. Does not give authority to go into Iran. It gave authority to deal with these other issues.”