Eight senators of Trump’s Republican Party, which enjoys a majority, bucked their leadership to join Democrats in a resolution that bars any military action against Iran without an explicit vote from Congress.
“The Senate just sent a clear shot across the bow — a bipartisan majority of senators don’t want the president waging war without congressional approval,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote.
But much like an earlier attempt by Congress to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating offensive in Yemen, Trump is nearly certain to issue a veto, with lawmakers lacking the two-thirds majority to overturn it.
Moments before the vote, a rocket slammed into an Iraqi base housing US troops in the first attack on the site since a December 27 barrage killed a US contractor, according to Iraqi and US security sources. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Power of Congress
“An offensive war requires a congressional debate and vote. This should not be a controversial proposition,” Kaine said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth put concerns about Trump more bluntly.
“My 21-month-old toddler has better self-control than this president does,” she told reporters.
Tensions have soared between the United States and Iran since 2018 when Trump withdrew from a denuclearization accord negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama and imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at reducing Tehran’s regional clout.
Soleimani, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards’ overseas Qods force, enjoyed vast influence within the clerical regime and was seen by the United States as orchestrating rocket attacks in Iraq.
Move to target Guards defeated
“There is no war with Iran. An air strike is not a war. Punishing Iran for killing an American citizen is not a war,” he said.
Senator Susan Collins, a closely watched moderate Republican, said the resolution did not cease ongoing activities such as US Navy patrols around the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial chokepoint for oil shipments.
Among other Republicans who voted yes was Mike Lee, who said a classified session by the Trump administration after the Soleimani killing was uninformative and the “worst” defense briefing he has ever received.
Senator Mitt Romney, the sole Republican who decided to convict Trump, voted against restricting him on Iran.