House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul told CNN Monday that his committee is drafting legislation “in the event it’s necessary” to authorize US military force if the current conflict between Israel and Hamas broadens into a wider proxy war with Iran.
"I hope I never have to mark this bill up. But we have a situation in the Middle East that’s growing day by day with intensity and if Hezbollah gets involved, Iran has already threatened if Gaza is, you know, if Israel goes, you know, if IDF (Israel Defense Forces) goes into Gaza that they're gonna come out,” he told CNN.
The revelation that his committee is crafting draft legislation — known as an Authorization of Use for Military Force — comes as President Joe Biden prepares to travel to the region later this week and is the latest indication that the US government is deeply concerned over how the current crisis could broaden in a way that might require a US military response.
The US military ordered a second carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean as well as Air Force fighter jets to the region as part of US efforts to deter Iran and its proxies from expanding the conflict.
McCaul was careful not to say whether the White House had specifically asked for such an authorization, telling reporters: "I don't want to confirm that. It's just that there is concern that — we, I'm currently, we're currently drafting one in the event it's necessary."
When asked by CNN what this potential authorization might entail, McCaul said: “I'd prefer not to put Iran as a nation state in there. It would be more Iran proxies, you know, like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran-backed Shi’ia militias, but if Iran gets directly involved, then we would have to put them on the list."
In an interview later with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, McCaul said he would want any potential authorization to have the full support of the American people.
“I’m currently preparing a draft of that in the event it is called upon and is necessary, but most importantly is supported by the American people,” he said.