The Senate approved a measure on Thursday that would limit President Donald Trump’s ability to use military forces against Iran, requiring him to seek congressional authorization to do so if he wanted to direct an offensive attack that wasn’t based off of an imminent need.
By a vote of 55 to 45, the resolution passed, and will soon make its way to the House of Representatives, where it’s also expected to pass, the Associated Press reported.
All presidents, including Trump, “have the ability to defend the United States from imminent attack,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), the bill’s author, maintained. But “the executive power to initiate war stops there.”
“An offensive war requires a congressional debate and vote,” Kaine added.
Eight Republican senators crossed partisan lines to support the Democratic Party-endorsed measure, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
With regard to Iran, “we want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact properly authorized by Congress,” Lee said in explaining his vote. “That doesn’t show weakness. That shows strength.”
President Donald Trump argued differently on his Twitter account before the vote took place.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
“It is very important for our Country’s SECURITY that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution,” Trump wrote in a series of two tweets. “We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness.”
Trump added that, if his hands “were tied” on the matter of being able to attack, “Iran would have a field day.” He also claimed it was a partisan action.
“The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!” Trump added.
Americans were critical of Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in early January, with 52 percent saying the action was reckless and 7-in-10 saying it made it more likely that an attack from Iran, targeting American interests in the Middle East, would happen soon, according to a USA Today/Ipsos poll.
Sure enough, Iran attacked two American bases in Iraq, injuring more than 100 U.S. soldiers in the process.
Trump claimed in the tweets cited above that the American people “overwhelmingly support [the administration’s] attack on terrorist Soleimani.” Yet polling showed that only 44 percent of Americans were for it, while 33 percent disapproved of the action. Twenty-five percent said they didn’t know how they felt about the assassination.
While showing a plurality of support, the poll demonstrated that a majority of Americans either saw the attack as a bad idea or as something they couldn’t say they definitively supported — hardly the measure of “overwhelming” backing that Trump claimed he had.
The bill passed by the Senate, if approved by the House, could be vetoed by Trump once it reaches his desk.