June 28, 2019

Senate Rejects Proposal to Curtail Trumps Options in Iran
(Bloomberg) -- The Senate rejected legislation that would require President Donald Trump to seek congressional approval for military action in Iran -- one of the few measures considered by the Republican-led chamber to curtail his war-making ability.The 50-40 vote Friday was far short of the 60 needed to adopt the measure. The vote began just after 5 a.m., and was kept open for about 10 hours to allow the six senators running for president to fly back from the Democratic debates in Miami.Four Republicans -- Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Jerry Moran of Kansas -- joined Democrats in voting for the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the vote even though it was difficult to schedule. The legislation would have been included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, a massive annual spending bill that is one of Congress’s few must-pass priorities. It would have restricted the use of funds authorized by the act from being used “to conduct hostilities against the government of Iran, against the armed forces of Iran, or in the territory of Iran,” unless authorized by Congress.“Dictators and kings declare war unilaterally, not democracies,” Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and the lead sponsor of the amendment, said on the Senate floor. “The people decide whether we go to war or whether we don’t go to war through their elected representatives. Congress is the most direct voice of the people.”House Foreign Relations Chairman Eliot Engel and Middle East subcommittee Chairman Ted Deutch expressed disagreement Friday with a State Department response to their request for the government’s legal analysis of Congress’s authorizations for use of military force, passed in 2001 and 2002.“The administration has not, to date, interpreted either AUMF as authorizing military force against Iran, except as may be necessary to defend U.S. or partner forces engaged in counterterrorism operations or operations to establish a stable, democratic Iraq,” wrote Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in a letter released by the lawmakers.Engel and Deutch said that provided a “loophole wide enough to drive a tank through.” They added in the statement that, “Congress has not authorized the use of force against Iran under any legal theory.” ‘Real Sacrifices’For Udall and other supporters of the measure, there was value in having the debate and putting senators on the record.“Our troops will be the ones making real sacrifices,” Udall said. “We can bear the cost of some inconvenient recess travel. Our job is to debate and vote on matters of war and peace, period, end of story.”Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the measure and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the House will now have an opportunity to add the amendment to its negotiations over the NDAA, which are slated to begin following the July 4 recess.“We might be able to get the amendment into the NDAA in conference because of the fact we did get a majority here and we are going to get a strong vote in the House,” Kaine told reporters. “My gut tells me that the White House is realizing that this is deeply unpopular with the American public.” Kaine said his pitch to his Republican colleagues was that they “should vote for their own power.”“You should not outsource this congressional responsibility to any president of any party,” Kaine said. “You should jealously guard it."The Senate passed the underlying NDAA on Thursday, but Republicans and Democrats agreed to vote on the amendment throughout the day Friday. (Updates with Kaine quotes starting in 11th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Travis Tritten and Erik Wasson.To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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