Se­nate looks to re­strain Trump’s war pow­ers

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Matthew Daly

A bipartisan mea­sure lim­it­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s au­thor­ity to launch mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against Iran is mov­ing to­ward ap­proval in the Se­nate.

The res­o­lu­tion, au­thored by Demo­cratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia, as­serts that Trump must win ap­proval from Congress be­fore en­gag­ing in fur­ther mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iran. Eight Repub­li­cans sided with Democrats Wednesday on a pro­ce­dural mo­tion to force a vote on the is­sue as soon as Thurs­day.

Kaine and other sup­port­ers said the res­o­lu­tion was not about Trump or even the pres­i­dency, but in­stead was an important re­asser­tion of con­gres­sional power to de­clare war.

An­swer­ing a claim by some of Trump’s sup­port­ers — and Trump him­self — that the mea­sure sends a sig­nal of weak­ness to Iran and other po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries, Kaine said the op­po­site was true.

“When we stand up for the rule of law — in a world that hungers for more rule of law — and say ‘this de­ci­sion is fun­da­men­tal, and we have rules that we are going to follow so we can make a good de­ci­sion,’ that’s a mes­sage of strength,” Kaine said Wednesday.

Repub­li­can Sen. Mike Lee of Utah agreed. Lee sup­ports Trump’s for­eign policy — in­clud­ing to­ward Iran — but said Congress can­not es­cape its con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to act on mat­ters of war and peace.

“What the Amer­i­can people and the en­tire world will see from the de­bate we’re about to have in the Se­nate is that there is abun­dant sup­port for the United States tak­ing tough po­si­tions with re­gard to Iran,” Lee said Wednesday. “And as part of that we want to make sure that any mil­i­tary ac­tion that needs to be au­tho­rized is in fact prop­erly au­tho­rized by Congress. That doesn’t show weak­ness. That shows strength.”’

While Trump and other pres­i­dents “must al­ways have the abil­ity to de­fend the United States from im­mi­nent at­tack, the ex­ec­u­tive power to ini­ti­ate war stops there,” Kaine said. “An of­fen­sive war re­quires a con­gres­sional de­bate and vote.”

The prin­ci­ple of con­gres­sional ap­proval is es­tab­lished for an important rea­son, Kaine said. “If we’re to order our young men and women ... to risk their lives in war, it should be on the ba­sis of care­ful de­lib­er­a­tion by the people’s elected leg­is­la­ture and not on the say-so of any one per­son.”

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