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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“To keep it from passing, it only takes 41 [votes],” said Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries High anxiety hits Senate over raising debt ceiling 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 PaulThe buck stops here: How to restore accountability to the federal regulatory system Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Lawyer: Flynn will keep cooperating after co-conspirator revelations MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act exposes Silicon Valley's hollow diversity slogans Overnight Defense: Senate rejects effort to restrict Trump on Iran | Democrats at debate vow to shore up NATO | Senate confirms chief of Space Command 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 CornynGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, 'you can keep it' | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure 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 KaineAcosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' Schumer calls on Acosta to step down over Epstein MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHouse passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' 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.