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McConnell urges opposition to effort to constrain Trump’s Iran war powers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging senators to reject efforts to rein in President Trump‘s ability to take military action against Iran without congressional approval.

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a resolution from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would require Trump to end any military hostilities against Tehran within 30 days. 

“I will strongly oppose our colleague’s effort and urge the Senate to defeat it,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. 

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McConnell argued that the Kaine resolution is “blunt and clumsy” and would “severely limit the U.S. military’s operational flexibility to defend itself against threats posed by Iran.”

“The ill-conceived potshots at presidential authorities in the wake of a strike that succeeded using the blunt instrument of a war powers resolution is no substitute at all for answering these broader questions” on foreign policy strategy, McConnell said. 

The Senate is expected to start debate on the war powers resolution on Wednesday.  

Kaine has the four GOP votes necessary for the resolution to pass initially, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) expected to support it.  

But both Kaine and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chief Senate Republican vote counter, suggested Democrats could pick up additional GOP votes, depending on the final language of the resolution. 

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“I think there’s a universe of Republicans depending on how it’s drafted that might be inclined to be for some version of that,” Thune said. “It’s not a big universe of members, but it’s probably more than the traditional four.” 

Because Democrats are using the War Powers Act, they are able to force a vote on the resolution limiting Trump despite opposition from McConnell and most Republicans. 

The House passed a concurrent resolution earlier this year, but that measure does not go to Trump’s desk and traditionally is not legally binding.  

The Senate resolution, which still needs to pass the House, is all but guaranteed to spark a veto from Trump. A veto override attempt would fall short because Democrats would need to pick up 20 GOP votes.

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