Less than a week after President Donald Trump was acquitted at the impeachment trials, eight Republicans turned their backs on him and voted to limit his presidential powers to use military force against Iran. The 55-45 Feb. 13 vote is a shock considering the two sides of the aisle have not been able to agree on anything; but on war with Iran, it seems, the message is clear. The president appears unlikely to sign this legislation, so the question now is whether there is enough support in both Houses to override his veto.
The Democrats felt that Congress needed to do something to curtail the “unpredictable” president as soon as possible before he purposefully or inadvertently thrust the United States into another war. “I fear that the president’s erratic decision-making, his lack of strategy, his inability to control his impulses may bumble us into a war … even if he doesn’t intend it,” said Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Some pundits have argued that Trump’s “impulsiveness” arguably saved lives when a U.S. drone strike took down the terrorist Qassem Soleimani. The Iranian General had already murdered hundreds and was planning even more attacks. The potential victims and their families probably do not agree with Schumer’s assessment of the president.
The Resolution states:
“Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force.”
The eight Republicans who sided with the Democrats on this power-limiting piece of paperwork were Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Todd Young (IN).
“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up to the rule of law,” Lee said in defense of their decision. “That’s a message of strength.” Some wonder if it would be more accurate to call it a message of fear – fear of losing power.
The day before the vote, Trump tweeted out his own warning: “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.” He added, “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!”
Unfortunately for the president, not everyone in the GOP listened. If this resolution is ultimately successful, what kind of precedent will it set for future commanders in chief?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.