The debate over whether or not the president can retaliate should Iran strike U.S. interests in the Middle East will continue as the Senate defeated a measure to curb executive power Friday.
Trump has said he believes he can make the decision to retaliate against Iran without Congressional approval as Iran has rattled sabers by allegedly striking oil tankers located near the Strait of Hormuz and shooting down an American drone.
Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Tim Kaine of Virginia, both Democrats, introduced the measure that would have prevented any funding for use in a strike against Iran without Congressional approval. That measure, which had the backing of a few Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, was defeated Friday in a vote that marked the longest in Senate history. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held the vote open for the entire day “in order to accommodate the Senate Democrats running for president who are returning from the candidate debates in Miami.”
The Senate measure was introduced after Trump abruptly abandoned plans to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American drone in international airspace.
Trump later threatened Iran with “obliteration” if he attacked any American interest in the region.
Udall argued that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran and impose new sanctions has pushed the United States toward a war.
“Since this administration turned away from diplomacy and resorted to the maximum pressure campaign to box in Iran, the risk of war has steadily risen,” Udall said prior to the vote. “Just last week, we were 10 minutes away from a strike on Iran. Ten minutes from a nightmare of escalation in the Gulf,” said Udall.”
Trump said he believes retaliatory actions against Iran do not require congressional approval and most Republicans agree.
Had he measure passed, it would have been added to the 2020 defense spending authorization that passed Thursday.