By Alexander Bolton
The resolution is privileged, which means Republicans cannot block it from reaching the floor, and comes the day after the surprise drone strike that killed Iraninan Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s elite Quds Force.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed “forceful revenge” against the U.S., and the Pentagon announced Friday that it will send 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East.
Kaine’s resolution requires that any hostilities with Iran must be explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force, though it does not prevent the United States from defending itself from imminent attack, according to a summary of the measure released by his office.
“For years I’ve been deeply concerned about President Trump stumbling into a war with Iran. We’re now at a boiling point and Congress must step in before Trump puts even more of our troops in harm’s way,” Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, said in a statement.
“We owe it to our servicemembers to have a debate and vote about whether or not it’s in our national interest to engage in another unnecessary war in the Middle East,” he added.
The measure would direct the president to remove U.S. forces from hostilities against Iran not later than 30 days after its enactment unless Congress approves further engagement.
It must pass both chambers by a majority vote and receive Trump’s signature to take the force of law. Otherwise, each chamber would have to muster a two-thirds majority — 67 votes in the Senate and 288 votes in the House — to overcome Trump’s veto. There are currently four vacancies in the lower chamber.
“What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago,” Trump said in a brief address on the strike from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
Kaine’s resolution, which was originally sponsored by Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), appears to have the support of Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who warned on the floor Friday that Congress needs to authorize any broader military action against Iran.
“The president does not have the authority for a war with Iran,” Schumer said. “If he plans a large increase in troops and potential hostility over a longer time, the administration will require congressional approval and the approval of the American people.”
Alexander Bolton is a senior reporter for The Hill.
This article appeared on January 3 at The Hill.