Senate Rejects Attempt to Curb Iran War Powers

Vote needed 60 Senators to pass

On Friday, the Senate fell short of the votes needed to add language blocking a US war on Iran to the new military spending bill. The amendment required 60 votes to be added, but fell short of that.

The amendment sought to preempt any Trump Administration attack on Iran by defunding any war on Iran that was not previously authorized by Congress. Similar language was included in the House version of the bill.

This vote comes amid repeated comments from Trump Administration officials suggesting that attacking Iran is being considered. Trump has also insisted, repeatedly that he does not believe he needs Congressional approval to wage war.

Even without the amendment in the spending bill, the law still clearly requires Congressional authorization. The US Constitution solely empowers Congress to declare war, and the War Powers Act similarly requires an authorization for the use of military force before any offensive war.

And yet, without this amendment, US law may not matter so much. If President Trump ultimately does illegally attack Iran, it would still put the onus on the Senate to try to do something about it, and if they don’t have the votes now, they probably still won’t have the votes after it starts.

Recent votes on the similarly unauthorized US involvement in the Yemen War has proven a test case on attempts to check presidential power. Even though War Powers Act challenges to the Yemen conflict passed both houses of Congress, they did not get a veto-proof majority, and subsequently President Trump vetoed Congressional oversight, which has so far meant the war could continue.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.