Senate Passes Bipartisan War-Powers Resolution to Limit Trump’s Ability to Attack Iran

Tobias Hoonhout

The Senate voted 51-45 on Wednesday to pass a War Powers resolution aimed at curtailing President Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran, with eight Republicans voting with the Democrat-led measure in a bipartisan —but likely symbolic — check against the White House.

Senators Mike Lee (R., Utah), Rand Paul (R., Ky.), Susan Collins (R., Maine), Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (R., La.), Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaksa), and Todd Young (R., Ind.) all joined the resolution proposed by Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) after Trump unilaterally issued the order to kill Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a January airstrike.

“We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress votes to authorize such a war,” Kaine told CNN ahead of the vote. “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. This should not be a controversial proposition.”

Following a classified briefing in January in which officials attempted to explain the intel behind the decision, Lee and Paul slammed the administration for an “absurd” justification, and signaled the lack of explanation over the decision had prompted them to support Kaine’s resolution.

A final vote is expected tomorrow, before the bill heads to the House, where it will be passed. In January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to pass her own resolution, which got through the House, but Senate Republicans signaled they would only be willing to go ahead with Kaine’s bill.

Trump is almost certain to veto the resolution, and according to Wednesday’s vote, the Senate currently lacks a two-thirds majority to overrule him. Democratic Presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren were all absent for the vote.

The president warned the Senate ahead of the vote that “this is not the time to show weakness” and that “the Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!”

Last month, Trump broke from a White House warning and signaled he would not retaliate against House Republicans who voted for Pelosi’s resolution, which aimed to repeal the 2002 Authorization of Military Force that authorized the Bush administration’s war in Iraq — which the Trump administration used to justify its strike on Soleimani.

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