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Republicans Help Pass Limits on Trump's War Powers

Senators say Congress needs to reclaim that authority
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2020 3:54 PM CST
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Sens. Tim Kaine, from left, Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer confer Thursday after the Senate approved a measure to limit the president's authority to attack Iraq.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The Senate has approved restricting President Trump's authority to wage war on Iran. The resolution, passed 55-45, would require the president to end any military action within 30 days unless he had the approval of Congress, the Hill reports. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, introduced the War Powers resolution after Trump ordered an airstrike last month that killed a top Iranian general. Six Republicans joined Democrats to put the resolution over the top: Sens. Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lamar Alexander, Bill Cassidy and Lisa Murkowski. That wasn't enough to make passage veto-proof, so it sets up a veto by Trump. The House has approved a similar measure, per the New York Times, which also lacked the votes to override a veto.

Although that means the votes would be merely symbolic, senators cast them as an attempt for Congress to reassert its authority in declaring war. "This is not about the presidency. … This really is about the proper allocation of power between the three branches of government," Lee said. "Congress has ceased to be in the war declaration driver's seat." Before the vote, Kaine said, "War is the most solemn responsibility we have, and it cannot be outsourced to anyone." Trump had told GOP senators by tweet to vote against the resolution, and the administration said the resolution "fails to account for present reality." But foreign policy is one area where Senate Republicans have bucked Trump, though they've usually run into vetoes. A measure passed in December 2018 to end backing for Saudi-led operations in Yemen, for example, as did one to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Read more War Powers Act stories.)

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