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White House: Biden ‘comfortable and confident’ in authorities to conduct strikes against Houthis

The White House said Friday that President Biden is confident in his authority to conduct retaliatory strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, following criticism from some Democrats that he bypassed congressional approval.

“We’re very comfortable and confident in the legal authorities that the president exercised to conduct these strikes,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

The U.S. and the U.K. bombed more than a dozen sites in Yemen Thursday used by the Iranian-backed Houthis. Biden said in a statement that day that the actions were taken “in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks” in the Red Sea that threatened U.S. personnel, civilians and trade in the region.

Kirby said the president made the decision to approve the strikes after the attacks Tuesday. Biden called his national security team together that afternoon, Kirby said, and was presented with response options and approved those options “at that time.”

“On Tuesday, we had this very large attack on multiple ships in the Red Sea,” Kirby said. “Right before that … we issued what can only be understood as a final warning to the Houthis. They violated that in this attack on Tuesday, and so it led to these strikes.”

Progressives, including Reps. Ro Khanna (Calif.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), accused Biden of violating the Constitution by carrying out the strikes without approval from Congress. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said they were “an unacceptable violation of the Constitution.” And Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) warned in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Biden would be risking getting into foreign conflicts by not turning to Congress for approval.

The White House argued that the strikes are part of an effort to prevent escalation.

“We’re not interested in a war with Yemen,” Kirby said. “Everything the president has been doing has been trying to prevent any escalation of conflict, including the strikes last night.”

The airstrikes killed at least five people and injured six as of Friday morning, according to the Houthi rebels. A Houthi official in their foreign ministry, Hussein al-Ezzi, described the strikes as “a massive aggressive attack by American and British ships, submarines and warplanes” and said that “America and Britain will undoubtedly have to prepare to pay a heavy price.”

Source: The Hill

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