U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Limiting Trump's Ability to Strike Iran

Resolution requiring president to seek congressional approval for future military action against Iran passes with rare bipartisan support, as eight Republican senators join 47 Democrats in favor of it

Trump during a meeting with Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved on Thursday a resolution that will require President Donald Trump to seek Congressional approval for any future military action against Iran.

The resolution, which passed the House of Representatives in January, will now go to the president's desk for approval. Trump is expected to veto it.

The resolution passed with rare bipartisan support, as eight Republican senators joined the chamber's 47 Democrats and voted in favor of it.

The vote signals that a majority of senators don't have confidence in Trump's handling of Middle East policy, and are concerned that his actions could draw the United States into a new war in the region. 

The resolution was presented in the senate by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine after passing the House mostly on a party-line vote. The number of Republicans who supported it in the Senate was larger than in the House, where only three Republicans voted in favor.

The first Republican senators to announce their support last month were Utah's Mike Lee and Rand Paul from Kentucky, both of whom harshly criticized the Trump administration for its actions against Iran in January.

The six other Republicans who eventually voted in favor of the resolution on Thursday were Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Maine's Susan Collins, Jerry Moran from Kanas, Todd Young from Indiana and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski. 

A day before the vote, Trump asked Republican senators to oppose the resolution, writing on his Twitter account: " It is very important for our Country’s security that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution. We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness."

If Trump indeed vetoes the resolution, it's very unlikely that a two-thirds majority will be found to override his veto. Democrats in Congress, however, hope that a presidential veto will give them political ammunition to highlight the danger of Trump's policy escalating into a war in the Middle East.

Public opinion polls that were conducted last month, at the height of tensions with Iran, showed that a majority of Americans oppose any new military intervention in the Middle East, and are concerned about a direct military conflict with Iran.