The Senate voted Thursday to reign in President Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran, delivering a rare bipartisan rebuke of his controversial decision to order the country’s top general killed.
In a 55-45 vote, the chamber passed a War Powers Resolution penned by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine that prevents Trump from using military force against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress. Eight Republicans broke ranks and joined all 47 Democrats in voting for the measure.
The House passed a similar resolution in the wake of the Trump-ordered airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.
However, since Kaine’s bill contains slightly different language, it will now be kicked back to the House for final approval before it is expected to head to the president’s desk.
Trump, who has vehemently opposed the measure, is expected to veto it.
On Wednesday, the president complained the bill “sends a very bad signal” and urged Republicans to kill it.
“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” he tweeted. “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day.”
But several Republicans disagree with Trump and argue Congress needs to be consulted before any further escalation in the conflict with Iran.
“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact properly authorized by Congress,” said usually Trump-loyal Utah Sen. Mike Lee, one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the Kaine bill. “That doesn’t show weakness. That shows strength.”
The other Republicans who joined Lee in supporting the resolution were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Randy Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar took a break from campaigning for president and returned to the Capitol for the vote.
Democrats and Republicans alike agree Soleimani was a terrorist responsible for hundreds of American deaths as the architect of Iran’s various proxy wars across the Middle East.
But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned the need to kill the general, arguing the risks of all-out war breaking out as a result of his death outweighed the purported benefits.
The Trump administration maintains Soleimani was plotting “imminent” attacks on American troops and diplomats at the time of his death.
However, the administration has yet to provide any detailed evidence of such attacks, and members of Congress came out of classified briefings on the strike last month unconvinced Trump had solid justification for the strike.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters ahead of the vote that the resolution is a firewall against Trump’s off-the-cuff decision-making.
“The president’s erratic decision-making, his lack of strategy, his inability to control his impulses may bumble us into a war nonetheless, even if he doesn’t intend it,” Schumer said. “It’s not just politics. If this is purely an attempt to embarrass the president, well, it’s going to be a bipartisan one.”
Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, the Republican chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, countered that the resolution was a waste of the time.
“There are no hostilities against Iran,” he said. “This vote will do nothing. It’s nonsense but we should be very concerned about the symbolic effect this vote will have. This will send a very damning message to Iran.”
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