The Senate approved a bipartisan resolution to curb the president's war powers when it comes to Iran — a rare rebuke and effort to reassert Congress' authority,
The vote was 55-45 — with eight Republicans joining all Democrats to pass the measure. The tally fell far short of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine led the charge on the resolution, which would ban the president from ordering any new offensive strikes against Iran. It would still allow the president to order strikes in cases of self-defense against an imminent attack.
Early on, the legislation garnered three Republican co-sponsors: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. And at least one other GOP member, Todd Young of Indiana, said he would support the measure, with other Republicans signaling they would vote yes as well.
"The resolution just says no war with Iran, unless you come and make that case to Congress. And if you make the case to Congress, in front of the American people, and we all have the discussion, ask the tough questions and conclude, sadly, it's in the national interest, that's one thing," Kaine told NPR. "But if we're not even willing to have that discussion, we shouldn't be forcing people to risk their lives."
The move comes more than a week after the Senate acquitted President Trump in a highly partisan impeachment trial. The war powers resolution was filed before the trial began, in the wake of escalating tensions with Iran.
The Democratic-led measure needed at least four Republicans to sign on for the measure to reach the simple majority of the Senate needed for passage — 51 votes.
Lee said the measure focuses on an imbalance of power that has given way to the presidency and it's time for Congress to reclaim its authority.
Collins said Congress can't be sidelined in these "important decisions."
"It is long overdue," the Maine Republican said. "It reasserts Congress' constitutional role and recognizes that the Framers did not vest in the presidency the authority to declare war unilaterally."