Senate Fails to Override Trump’s Veto on Iran War Powers Bill

May 7, 2020 Updated: May 7, 2020

The Senate failed Thursday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a bill that would curb his ability to take military action against Iran.

The Senate came up short of the two-thirds majority, and it voted 49-44, with seven GOP senators joining Democrats.

Seven Republicans broke with Trump: Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Todd Young of Indiana, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Democrats in February to pass the bill, but he did not vote Thursday.

Trump on Wednesday night, in announcing the veto, said that Republicans who voted alongside Democrats were tricked by them. He also argued that the measure would hamper the executive branch’s ability to protect allies in the Middle East against the Iranian regime.

“The resolution implies that the president’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack,” he said in a statement. “That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the president must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!”

Epoch Times Photo
A man holds a picture of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with Iranian Revolutionary Guards Major General Qassem Soleimani (L) during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan. 3, 2020. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

The resolution came weeks after Trump authorized a strike to kill top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who U.S. officials said had been plotting attacks against American assets in the region and had blamed him for the deaths of hundreds of troops over the years. Iran launched a barrage of missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers, causing brain injuries to more than 100.

Before Soleimani’s death, Iraqi militia groups directed by Tehran attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and tried to set structures on fire. And days after the Iran missile attack, a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane was shot down and dozens of people were killed—including Canadian nationals. Tehran later claimed responsibility for the attack.

In February, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who sponsored the war powers bill, argued that it wasn’t about Trump but about how much power the executive branch should have in declaring war. He said Congress should be responsible for declaring war.

“What I find so notable about that statement is that the president could not see Congress expressing an opinion about war through any lens other than himself and his reelection,” Kaine said on the Senate floor before the vote on Thursday, according to a live stream.

The Senate passed the first war powers bill 55 to 45, and the House later approved it 227 to 186.