US Senate votes to restrain Trump on Iran

Agence France-Presse . Washington | Published: 00:47, Feb 15,2020

 
 

The US Senate voted Thursday to rein in president Donald Trump from attacking Iran, sharply rebuking his foreign policy despite a week earlier acquitting him in his impeachment trial.

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.

The resolution will head to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, which passed a similar text last month.

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.

The contractor’s death set off an escalating crisis in which Trump ordered a drone strike at the Baghdad airport that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful general.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine introduced the resolution after Soleimani’s death, concerned that the United States was rushing into another Middle East war without debate.

While warning of dire consequences of an escalating conflict with Iran, Kaine said his main point was to restore the authority of Congress to declare war, as spelled out in the US Constitution.

‘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.

The resolution makes an exception if the United States is ‘defending itself from an imminent act.’

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.

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