WASHINGTON, February 13th, 2020. Introduced on the 9th of January, a joint resolution restricting the American Presidency from acting with aggression towards Iran passed the Senate yesterday with a vote of 55-45.
“Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran,” reads the bill, introduced by Senator Tim Kaine (D – VA).
This passage matches a similar piece of legislation introduced by notable anti-interventionist Ro Khanna (D – CA) that made it through the Democrat-controlled House earlier this month called the No War With Iran Act. Speaking with the Times on the 14th of January, Senator Kaine believed there was enough bipartisan support to get matching efforts passed through the Republican-controlled Senate.
And indeed it was a slightly bi-partisan victory, with several Republicans voting to try and remove aggression towards Iran from the Oval Office for the foreseeable future.
Republican senators Lamar Alexander (R – TN), Bill Cassidy (R – LA), Mike Lee (R – UT), Susan Collins (R – ME), Jerry Moran (R – KS), Lisa Murkowski (R – AK), Rand Paul (R – KY), and Todd Young (R – IN) all voted to try and reign in some of Trump’s hostile acts towards Iran as resulting from the January assassination of Iranian IRGC Maj. General Qassem Soleimani.
Is the threat of war real?
In a bizzare concession, section 1 paragraph 5 of the bill states: “Members of the United States Armed Forces and intelligence community, and all those involved in the planning of the January 2, 2020, strike on Qasem Soleimani, including President Donald J. Trump, should be commended for their efforts in a successful mission”.
President Trump, since withdrawing from the 2015 Joint-Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, has several times ratched up the already “crippling sanctions” of the Obama Administration, especially over the course of 2019.
However aside from the assassination of Soleimani, the increasing tensions between the two countries, which have included alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, an incident where an American drone that was probably in Iranian airspace was shot down by Iranian military forces, and significant attacks into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis in Yemen, which the State Department adamantly attributes to military support from Tehran, haven’t resulted in any direct military aggression.
The previous time the War Powers clause of the Constitution was invoked in Congress, it was in response to a massive military aid package for the UAE/Saudi Arabia alliance for use in their persecution of the Yemenis. Cosponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna, it past both the House and Senate before ending up in the dustbin after a presidential veto invoked by Trump.
J.R. 68 and the No War With Iran Act are two seperate pieces of legislation, and with demonstrative victories for both in both houses, it’s likely that Trump will be forced to veto both if he wants to maintain power to threaten the regime in Tehran.