Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran

Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran
© Stefani Reynolds

A Democratic senator is vowing to push a measure aimed at restricting military action against Iran when the Senate’s defense policy bill comes to a floor vote.

“I frankly think it would be a colossal disaster if the United States were involved in Iran,” Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine'Granite Express' flight to take staffers, journalists to NH after Iowa caucuses Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Senate panel approves Trump FDA pick | Biden downplays Dem enthusiasm around 'Medicare for All' | Trump officials unveil program for free HIV prevention drugs for uninsured Trump's FDA nominee approved by Senate panel MORE (D-Va.) told reporters on a conference call. “I especially believe it would be a disaster if we were to do that with the president’s unilateral say-so with no debate in Congress.”

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Kaine’s proposed amendment would prevent funding for any military action against Iran except in self-defense or if Congress approves a separate war authorization.

Kaine’s effort follows a failed attempt Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters Bureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows MORE (N.M) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Trump administration releases 5M in military aid for Lebanon after months-long delay Senate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (Conn.) to get an amendment attached to a Syria policy bill that would have prohibited funding for an unauthorized attack on Iran.

Kaine first attempted to get his amendment added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s closed-door consideration of the bill, he told reporters Thursday.

But he ran into jurisdictional issues because the parliamentarian ruled it was the purview of both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations panels. The Republican chairmen in both committees therefore said it couldn’t be taken up in the Armed Services markup, Kaine said.

Kaine then asked for a vote to overrule the chairman and was voted down along party lines, 14-13, he said.

“That we would not be able to discuss all of these issues about potential war with Iran in the Armed Services Committee, it’s like the scene in Dr. Strangelove where the president says no fighting in the war room. Are you kidding, this is exactly the place we should be having this discussion,” Kaine said.

“But I’m not done with this,” he added. “The jurisdictional objections that can be lodged in a committee do not apply when the bill is on the floor, so when the National Defense [Authorization] Act is on the floor, which could be as early as mid-June, I’m going to revisit the amendment.”

Hundreds of amendments are typically filed for the NDAA, but few have gotten votes in recent years because any one senator can object to bringing an amendment up for a vote.

The Democratic attempts to curtail the president’s ability to take military action against Iran come as U.S.-Iranian tensions continue to run exceptionally hot. 

Despite acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE’s assertion early this week that sending a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Middle East deterred potential Iranian attacks, Shanahan is set to brief the White House later Thursday on proposals to send thousands more troops to the region to protect against alleged threats against U.S. personnel.