President Trump’s power to potentially take military action against Iran is being challenged by a bipartisan resolution that may include the votes of a few Republican lawmakers.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong opposition to the measure, eight GOP senators joined their Democratic colleagues Wednesday in a vote to bring the resolution to the floor for a final vote on Thursday on whether or not to cut back President Trump’s ability to use U.S. armed forces against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The resolution was introduced in January by Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Dick Durbin of Illinois following the death of Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, in a military drone strike ordered by Trump.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Maine’s Susan Collins, Indiana’s Todd Young, as well as Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski all sided with Democrats on the procedural vote and could vote to approve the measure when it comes down to the final up or down decision.
If approved in the Senate, the measure will likely be vetoed by Trump and, without 67 votes in the upper chamber to override him, the legislation will be killed.
“You’ve got members of ours who traditionally have held the view that you don’t want to be involved in foreign entanglements,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune said, according to The Hill.
“And then we got other members … who think that constitutionally Congress needs to claw back some more of the powers we’ve given up to the executive when it comes to where and when we deploy American power around the world,” the South Dakota Republican said.
“It’s evidence that there are folks in our caucus who, on foreign policy and national security matters, come down in a slightly different place,” Thune added.
References to Trump have reportedly been removed from the language of the resolution by GOP senators who want to eliminate any possibility that it could look like a personal attack on Trump. Democrats were up in arms last month after the death of Soleimani as they all but hailed him as a national hero to Iranians in their rush to attack Trump.
Iran retaliated for the strike by firing missiles on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops. The president announced that he did not expect any further escalation but at least 100 U.S. service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following the attack.
McConnell slammed the proposed resolution as “deeply flawed on a number of levels” this week, calling it out as a more aggressive rendering of the 1974 War Powers Act while warning that it dangerously restricts the president’s freedom to act in the case of a national security emergency.
“It is too blunt and too broad. It is also an abuse of the War Powers Act, which was designed to strike a balance between the President’s constitutional war powers and Congress’ own war powers and oversight responsibilities,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“No patience for ordinary oversight; just rush to grab the bluntest tool available to make a political statement against the president,” the Kentucky Republican added, referring to Democrats’ methods in both the current proposal and the way they handled the impeachment of the president.
“Well, this war powers debate bears an eerie resemblance to that pattern,” he said.
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