Senate GOP to defeat proposal requiring approval for Iran attack

Senate Republicans are confident they have the votes to defeat a bipartisan amendment that would require congressional approval for any military action President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE takes against Iran.

The amendment, which Democrats want to attach to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, would require 60 votes to pass.

That means at least 13 Republicans would have to join all 47 Democrats — including two independents who caucus with Democrats — to pass the amendment.

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“To keep it from passing, it only takes 41 [votes],” said Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report 'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (S.D.), who confirmed the amendment would need 60 votes to succeed.

“We’ve talked to a lot of folks,” he said.

Thune noted that a handful of Republicans, such as Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul: Almost every mass shooter 'is sending off signals' Liz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeExclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Overnight Defense: GOP grumbles after Trump delays military projects for wall | House panel hints at subpoena for Afghanistan envoy | Kabul bombing raises doubts about Taliban talks MORE (Utah), support requiring the president to get approval from Congress for any attacks against Iran. But he said they are a minority of the Senate GOP conference.

“I think most of our conference is in a different place and doesn’t want in an unprecedented way put constraints on the president’s ability to defend the country,” Thune said. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Senator asked FBI to follow up on new information about Kavanaugh last year Congress must reinstate assault weapons ban MORE (R-Ky.), also predicted Wednesday the amendment would fail. 

“I do not believe it will pass and I do believe that it’s unconstitutional if it did,” he said.

Cornyn argued the amendment “would impair our ability to respond to further attacks by Tehran and in a way that would make them think that we were weak or irresolute in responding to their aggression.”

The amendment states no funds may be used to conduct hostilities against the government of Iran or its armed forces without a joint resolution of Congress specifically authorizing such hostilities.

Democrats have threatened to block the defense authorization bill unless allowed a vote on the Iran amendment, whose main sponsors are Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Air Force nominee: Setting up Space Force would be 'key imperative' MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Defense Department says "forever chemical" cleanup costs will dwarf earlier estimates Senators from both parties offer resolution to nix Trump emergency declaration to build wall MORE (D-N.M.).

McConnell said Tuesday that he’s open to having a vote on the proposal but argued that it’s unnecessary.

“Nobody is advocating going to war with Iran. Not the president, not the secretary of State, none of the generals. No one,” he said.