Senate limits Trump on force against Iran

A senate vote requires Donald Trump to gain congressional approval for any military action in Iran
A senate vote requires Donald Trump to gain congressional approval for any military action in Iran

The US Senate has moved to limit President Donald Trump's authority to launch military operations against Iran, with eight Republicans joining Democrats to support the resolution.

It was the Senate's first major vote since acquitting Trump on impeachment charges last week. Trump is expected to veto the war powers resolution if it reaches his desk, warning that if his "hands were tied, Iran would have a field day."'

The measure, authored by Senator Tim Kaine, says Trump must win approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran.

Kaine and other supporters said the resolution, which passed 55-45, was an important reassertion of congressional power to declare war.

While Trump and other presidents "must always have the ability to defend the United States from imminent attack, the executive power to initiate war stops there," Kaine said. "An offensive war requires a congressional debate and vote."

The Senate vote continues a pattern in which Republican senators have shown a willingness to challenge Trump on foreign policy, a sharp departure from their strong support during impeachment and on domestic matters.

Two-thirds votes in the House and GOP-run Senate would be needed to override an expected Trump veto of the new war powers resolution on Iran.

The principle of congressional approval is established for an important reason, Kaine said. "If we're to order our young men and women ... to risk their lives in war, it should be on the basis of careful deliberation by the people's elected legislature and not on the say-so of any one person."

Trump argued on Twitter that a vote against Kaine's proposal was important to national security and pointed to the January 3 drone strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani.

"We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness. Americans overwhelmingly support our attack on terrorist Soleimani," Trump said. "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!"

Tehran responded to the US attack on Soleimani by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. The attack caused traumatic brain injuries in at least 64 US soldiers, the Pentagon said..

Democrats and Republicans alike criticised a briefing by the Trump administration shortly after the drone strike, saying US officials offered vague information about a possible attack being planned by Iran but no substantial details.

Australian Associated Press