Democrat Says Senate Has Votes to Limit Trump War Powers

WASHINGTON (CN) — A measure that would require Congress to approve future military action against Iran has enough support from Republicans to pass the Senate, the resolution’s Democratic sponsor said Tuesday.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks to reporters on Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

After the strike earlier this month that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., introduced a special resolution that would prevent President Donald Trump from taking future military action against Iran without explicit approval from Congress.

Kaine’s resolution has gained support from a handful of Republicans who have expressed frustration with the Trump administration’s justifications for carrying out the Soleimani strike, making it possible to pass the Senate despite the chamber’s narrow Republican majority.

“The good news is this: We now have a majority of colleagues, Democratic and Republican, who will stand strong for the principle that we shouldn’t be at war without a vote of Congress and that’s a very positive thing,” Kaine told reporters Tuesday.

The former vice presidential candidate said he will keep talking to Republican colleagues in the hopes of bringing more on in support of the resolution. Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee were early endorsers of Kaine’s plan, with fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins and Todd Young later coming out in favor of the resolution after hammering out changes to the measure with Kaine.

A special set of rules empower Democrats to force a vote on the resolution without the support of Senate leadership, which generally controls the chamber’s actions, and allow it to pass with a simple majority.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday told reporters that under the chamber’s procedures, Kaine’s resolution will be ready for a vote on Sunday. Schumer noted he will have to work out with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when the vote will take place given the likely beginning of the Senate’s impeachment trial next week.

Trump is all but certain to veto the resolution if it passes the Senate and it is unlikely to garner enough support from Republicans to override the veto.

The strike that killed Soleimani and nine others earlier this month has garnered fierce reaction from Democrats, and some Republicans, who have questioned whether the administration had adequate justification to carry out the attack, which prompted a flurry of missile strikes from Iran on military bases in Iraq that house U.S. personnel.

Lee, a Utah Republican, was especially critical of the administration’s handling of the strike, calling a briefing military officials gave to Congress last week about the action “the worst” he had ever seen.

The Democrat-controlled House last week passed a similar resolution with some Republican support, though it does not carry the same legal force as Kaine’s.

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