WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- A majority of the Senate supports limiting further hostilities against Iran despite opposition from Republican leadership and President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Tuesday.
The House last week approved a war powers resolution forbidding the president from going to war with Iran unless there’s an imminent threat or Congress declares war.
Democrats are pushing to pass a similar measure in the Senate, saying the Trump administration failed to sufficiently justify the assassination of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani without first seeking congressional approval. Democrats and a few Republicans have also questioned the administration’s initial rationale for the attack, which included a stated "imminent” attack on U.S. troops in the region.
On Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine announced that four Republican senators ― Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Todd Young of Indiana ― had committed to vote with all 45 Democrats and two independents in support of his resolution limiting military action in Iran. The measure needs just 51 votes for passage.
"We now have a majority of colleagues who will stand strong for the principle that we shouldn’t be at war without a vote in Congress. And I’m going to keep working to get more, beyond the 51,” the Virginia Democrat said at a press conference.
The U.S. assassination of Iran’s most powerful general has increased tensions between the two countries. It was a key topic in Tuesday’s Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said his response to Trump’s decision to assassinate Gen. Soleimani was that "the only way to take a nation to war is with the informed consent of the American people.”
"We have lost our standing in the region. We have lost the support of our allies,” he said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Trump was "taking us pell mell toward another war.”
"We just found out today that four Republicans are joining Democrats to go to him and say you must have an authorization of military force if you’re going to go to war with Iran. That is so important because we have a situation where he got us out of the Iranian nuclear agreement I worked on for a significant period of time,” she said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said, "What I fear very much is we have a president who is lying again and could drag us into a war that is even worse than the war in Iraq.”
He said, "We cannot keep acting unilaterally, as you know, the nuclear deal with Iran was worked on with a number of our allies,” he said. "The American people are sick and tired of endless wars.”
Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager and environmentalist, said Trump "obviously has no strategy” in dealing with Iran.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said she would move to bring thousands of U.S. troops home from the Middle East.
"We have to stop this mindset that the answer” to the world’s trouble spots is to send U.S. troops overseas. Asked whether she would leave some combat troops in the Middle East, she replied: "No, we have to get them out.”