There appeared to be progress on multiple fronts to avoid a military confrontation with Iran on Wednesday, but the Trump administration's plan remains unclear.
House Democrats voted to pass a $1 trillion appropriations bill, which includes a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force — Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to vote against AUMF in 2001, added the repeal last month.
However, no Republicans voted for the bill and it appears unlikely it will get past the Senate.
The AUMF was passed days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, granting the president authority to use military force against those responsible for the attacks and those who harbored them, generally considered to be al Qaeda and Afghanistan, respectively.
But lawmakers recently raised concerns that the Trump administration was potentially prepared to invoke AUMF to launch a war with Iran, after statements by officials tying Iran to al Qaeda, which raised skepticism in Congress.
On the other hand, President Trump is reportedly less hawkish on Iran than his advisers and he has privately pushed them to ease up their talk. Trump even called the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which the U.S. alleges were orchestrated by Tehran, "very minor." State Department Special Representative Brian Hook, meanwhile, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a hearing on Wednesday that there is "no talk of offensive action" and the priority remains putting economic pressure on Iran, The Daily Beast reports.