Senate resolution to limit Trump’s military authority on Iran has enough GOP votes to pass, key Democrats say

WASHINGTON — A resolution to curb President Trump’s military authority in Iran has enough votes to pass the Senate, leading Democrats announced Tuesday, stating that Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins will join three other members of the GOP who had previously announced their support for the measure to invoke Congress’ war powers.

‘‘We now have the 51 votes that we need for the version that’s the bipartisan version,’’ Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and author of the resolution, told reporters, noting that Republican Senators Collins, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky had decided to join all 47 Democrats in backing the measure.


The resolution ‘‘simply makes clear that only the legislative branch may declare war or commit our armed forces to a sustained military conflict with Iran,” said Collins, one of the most vulnerable Republicans seeking reelection this year.

Kaine’s proposal “does not alter the president’s inherent authority as commander in chief to defend our nation and US forces abroad,” Collins said, adding that it would allow the president to respond to emergencies created by aggression from any hostile nation, including Iran.

Kaine has been working with those four Republican senators and others to make changes to the resolution since releasing an original draft just a day after Trump approved the strike to kill top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. Lee and Paul were the first Republicans to declare their support for the measure, after an administration briefing last week they found both frustrating and insulting, noting how officials refused to say when, if ever, they would consult Congress before launching such a strike — and urging lawmakers to fall in line behind the president.

Republicans “were discouraged at the attitude that was being communicated to us that Congress is an annoyance” to the executive branch, Kaine said. The briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials gave lawmakers the impression that they “should be glad” to get ‘‘a few morsels of information” five days after the attack, he said.


Kaine said he has removed, at Republicans’ request, language that targeted Trump. Instead the measure is a more general statement declaring that Congress has the sole power to declare war and directing the president to terminate use of military force against Iran or any part of its government without approval from Congress.

Young said in a statement Tuesday that he opposed “a politically charged version” of Kaine’s war powers resolution, but supports revised language reasserting Congress’s constitutional role in debating military action.

‘‘Our service members are willing to put politics aside for our national security, we need to do the same,” Young said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Republicans oppose the resolution, saying it would send the wrong message to US allies.

The Democratic-controlled House passed a separate war powers resolution last week. The House measure is not binding on the president and does not require his signature. If the Senate approves the Kaine measure, the House could take up the Senate resolution and send it to Trump.

Two-thirds votes in the House and Senate would be needed to override an expected Trump veto.

The White House said last week that the House proposal was unnecessary because the military actions it cites are already authorized by law, including the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq.


The proposal also could undermine the president’s ability to defend US forces and interests in the region against ongoing threats from Iran and its proxies, the White House said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.