The Senate advanced legislation Wednesday that is intended to curb President Donald Trump’s war powers against Iran, which will pave the way for a final vote, with several Republicans joining Democrats.
The war powers resolution would require the president to remove American troops engaged in hostilities against Iran unless Congress makes a declaration of war or passes an authorization to use military force.
The measure was introduced after the White House-approved airstrike killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani following reports that his Quds Force killed an American soldier and was planning attacks on U.S. assets in the region. Iran then retaliated and fired about two dozen rockets at Iraqi bases, leaving more than 100 American troops with mild brain injuries.
The Senate voted 51 to 45 on Wednesday on a motion to proceed to the final vote, which is expected this week, reported Reuters, which added that eight GOP senators voted in favor of it.
Trump voiced opposition to the measure Wednesday saying it “is not the time to show weakness” and that if his administration is unable to act on Tehran, “Iran would have a field day.”
In a series of Twitter posts, the president wrote, “It is very important for our Country’s SECURITY that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution. We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness … 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!”
Even though some Republicans support the measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opposes it, meaning that the resolution is unlikely to get enough votes for a veto-proof majority.
McConnell said on the Senate floor that the resolution “would severely limit the U.S. military’s operational flexibility to defend itself against threats posed by Iran” before announcing he will oppose the measure.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Calif.), a former vice presidential candidate, suggested that the measure isn’t about Trump but about Congress reasserting its Constitutionally mandated powers to declare war.
“This resolution is about Congress reclaiming its rightful role in decisions about war,” Kaine said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “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. It’s clearly stated in the Constitution.”
The Democratic-led House passed a resolution in January after some members of Congress said the White House failed to fully inform them about the Soleimani airstrike.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the president serves as the commander in chief of the military, while Congress has the sole power to declare war.
The measure needs only a simple majority, or 51 votes to pass. However, it will require a 67-vote supermajority to override Trump’s veto.