McConnell Urges Senators to Oppose Effort to Constrain Trump’s Iran War Powers

February 11, 2020 Updated: February 11, 2020
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants other senators to join him in voting against a resolution that would make President Donald Trump end any military efforts against Iran within 30 days.

The binding resolution, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who was the vice president candidate on Hillary Clinton’s ticket in 2016, is expected to be voted on this week.

“I will strongly oppose our colleague’s effort and urge the Senate to defeat it,” McConnell said from the Senate floor in Washington on Feb. 11.

The measure would “severely limit the U.S. military’s operational flexibility to defend itself against the threats posed by Iran,” the senator said.

Kaine’s resolution was introduced after Trump ordered an airstrike to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in late December 2019. McConnell praised the strike as “successful,” saying it was “limited yet decisive” and took out “the mastermind responsible for more American casualties than anyone else alive.”

“This was not some reckless act,” he said.

Soleimani, 62, commanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Military officials have also said Soleimani was responsible for causing numerous American injuries and deaths.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 14, 2013. (Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) speaks at the senate subcommittee hearing on The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law, on Dec. 4, 2018. (Jennifer Zeng/The Epoch Times)

While some Democrats cheered Soleimani’s death, many disagreed with the president’s decision to order the strike, including a number of presidential candidates. The Democratic-controlled House last month passed two bills aimed to curb Trump’s war powers, with some Republican members voting for the measures and some Democrats opposing them. The House also passed a non-binding resolution earlier in January urging Trump to consult with Congress before using military force against Iran.

Kaine introduced his resolution on Jan. 3.

“For years, I’ve been deeply concerned about President Trump stumbling into a war with Iran. We’re now at a boiling point, and Congress must step in before Trump puts even more of our troops in harm’s way. We owe it to our servicemembers to have a debate and vote about whether or not it’s in our national interest to engage in another unnecessary war in the Middle East,” Kaine said in a statement at the time.

Because war powers resolutions are privileged, the Republican-held Senate will be forced to vote on the legislation. Kaine said later in January that he has support from at least four Republicans for the resolution—Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have signaled their intentions to vote for it—indicating that the resolution will pass.

Trump is expected to veto the resolution. A veto can only be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House.

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