The US Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan measure aimed at limiting President Donald Trump’s authority to launch military operations against Iran, with eight Republicans joining the Democrats in a post-accusation attempt to restrict the White House.
The rebuke was the first major Senate vote since he acquitted Trump on impeachment charges last week.
Trump is expected to see the resolution of the war powers if he arrives at his desk, warning that if his hands were tied, Iran would have a field day.
The measure, written by Senator Tim Kaine, says Trump must obtain congressional approval before taking further military action against Iran. Kaine and other supporters said the resolution, passed by 55-45, did not refer to Trump or the presidency, but was an important reaffirmation of the power of Congress to declare war.
“While Trump and other presidents must always have the ability to defend the United States from an impending attack, the executive power to start the war stops there,” Kaine said.
“An offensive war requires debate and vote in Congress.”
The Senate vote continues a pattern in which Republican senators have shown their willingness to challenge Trump in foreign policy, a sharp departure from his strong support during the impeachment and in internal affairs.
Congress moved to impose restrictions on the United States’ participation in the war in Yemen last year after the American journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a horrible murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey.
The bipartisan vote was a rare exercise of congressional authority, the first since the passage of the War Powers Act of 1973. And Trump immediately vetoed it.
The Democratic-controlled House passed a separate and non-binding resolution of war powers over Iran last month.
The House could take on the Senate resolution later this month, the House leaders said. It would take two thirds of the votes in the House and Senate led by the Republican Party to override Trump’s expected veto of the resolution of the powers of war.
Responding to a statement by some of Trump’s supporters and Trump himself that the move would send a signal of weakness to Iran and other potential adversaries, Kaine said the opposite was true.
“When we defend the rule of law […] and say that this decision is fundamental, and we have rules that we will follow so that we can make a good decision, that is a message of strength, “said Kaine.
“If we are going to order our young men and women […] to risk their lives in war, it must be based on careful deliberation by the elected legislature of the people and not on the opinion of any person. “
Senator Mike Le agreed. Lee supports Trump’s foreign policy, even towards Iran, but said Congress cannot escape its constitutional responsibility to act on issues of war and peace.
“As the Senate debate made clear, there is great support for the United States to take difficult positions regarding Iran,” said Lee.
“And as part of that, we want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is, in fact, duly authorized by Congress. That shows no weakness. That shows strength.”
Trump questioned that, arguing on Twitter that a vote against Kaine’s proposal was important for national security and noted the drone attack on January 3 that killed Iran’s chief general, Qasem Soleimani.
“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness. The Americans overwhelmingly support our attack on the terrorist Soleimani,” Trump said.
“If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Send a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to shame the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!
Tehran responded to the US attack on Soleimani by launching missiles against two military bases in Iraq that house US troops. The attack caused traumatic brain injuries in at least 64 US soldiers, the Pentagon said.
Democrats and Republicans alike criticized an Trump administration briefing shortly after the drone attack, saying US officials offered vague information about a possible attack planned by Iran, but not substantial details.
Kaine has long pressed for action reaffirming the power of Congress to declare war. At the request of the Republicans, he eliminated the initial language that pointed to Trump in favor of a general declaration stating that Congress has the sole power to declare war.
The resolution also orders Trump to suspend the use of military force against Iran or any part of his government without congressional approval.
Senator Susan Collins, co-sponsor, considered that the resolution was very necessary and was very pending. “
In recent decades, “Congress has too often abdicated its constitutional responsibility to authorize the sustained use of military force,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Republicans opposed the resolution, saying he would send a wrong message to the US allies.
“In the same way that we send Iran this strong signal of our strength and resolve (by killing the country’s top general), a blunt and clumsy resolution of the war powers would tie our hands,” McConnell said.
The three senators seeking the Democratic nomination for President Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts returned to the Capitol after campaigning and backed the resolution of the war powers.
In addition to Collins and Lee, the Republicans who joined the Democrats were Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana.