The Senate voted 55–45 on Thursday to limit Trump’s authority to take military action against Iran, The Hill reported. While most of those in favor were Democrats, there were some notable exceptions.
The bill will now head to the president’s desk, where it is expected to face a swift veto.
Kaine reins him in
The Thursday vote in the upper chamber came after a vote earlier in the day to move the Iran War Powers Resolution forward. The resolution states:
Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces.
The resolution makes an exception for force that “is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack.” It also specifies that the provisions do not preclude the president “from using military force against al Qaeda or associated forces.”
The resolution was first put forward by Democratic Virginia senator and failed 2016 vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.
“We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress votes to authorize such a war,” Kaine said in an interview with CNN, according to National Review. “While the president does and must always have the ability to defend the United States from imminent attack, the executive power to initiate war stops there.
“An offensive war requires a congressional debate and vote,” Kaine continued. “This should not be a controversial proposition.”
Eight Republicans break ranks
The move was opposed by most Republicans, but Sen. Mike Lee (UT) wasn’t among them. At a press conference, Lee said he is a “huge fan” of Trump’s foreign policy, according to the New York Post, but that the resolution is needed to limit foreign entanglements.
“This should not be controversial,” he added, echoing Kaine.
Siding with him were fellow Republicans Rand Paul (KY), Susan Collins (ME), Lamar Alexander (TN), Bill Cassidy (LA), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Todd Young (IN), The Hill reported.
“Don’t let it happen!”
For his part, the president has come out strongly against the resolution, arguing that it would be a manifestation of “weakness.” He tweeted on Wednesday:
….If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
The president is expected to veto the measure. If he does, it would then need the support of two-thirds of each body of Congress to pass — an unlikely occurrence.