Senators demand Trump explain decision to deploy troops amid Iran tensions

Senators demand Trump explain decision to deploy troops amid Iran tensions
© Greg Nash
A bipartisan group of senators called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE to explain his decision to deploy troops to the Middle East and warning that Congress hasn't authorized military action against Iran. 
 
Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump goes birther again; no deal on COVID-19 package Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance MORE (D-Va.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Overnight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure MORE (R-Utah) spearheaded the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Merkley, Sanders introduce bill limiting corporate facial recognition MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (I-Vt.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Democrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production MORE (D-Conn.), and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWatchdog calls for probe into Gohmert 'disregarding public health guidance' on COVID-19 Massie plans to donate plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies After trillions in tax cuts for the rich, Republicans refuse to help struggling Americans MORE (R-Ky.), saying they are "concerned' that escalating U.S.-Iran tensions will lead to a military conflict. 
 
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"We remain concerned that increasingly escalatory actions by both sides will lead to an unnecessary conflict. Given that growing risk, we want to reiterate that, as of this date, Congress has not authorized war with Iran and no current statutory authority allows the U.S. to conduct hostilities against the Government of Iran," the senators wrote.
 
They added that they "expect" the Trump administration would come to Congress for a military authorization before they deploy forces "into hostilities or areas where hostilities with Iran are imminent" and stick to "legitimate principles of self-defense" absent congressional authorization.
 
"We request a joint Defense, State and Intelligence Community briefing by the end of June to address these policy and legal issues," the senators write.   
 
The letter to Trump comes after acting Defense Secretary announced on Monday night that the administration will send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East for defensive purposes. 
 
U.S.-Iran tensions are running high after Tehran’s nuclear agency announced it will soon exceed the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile unless Europe intervenes, and in the wake of an attack on oil tankers near the strategic chokepoint of the Straight of Hormuz, which the Trump administration blames on Tehran.
 
Senators are getting a new round of briefings from the administration, including a top State Department official meeting with Senate Republicans during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday. 
 
 
The letter to Trump comes as the Senate is expected to start debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) later this week. 
 
Paul, Kaine, Murphy, Merkley and Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead White House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders MORE (D-Ill.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallInterior finalizes public lands agency HQ move out West over congressional objections Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats introduce bill to ban chlorpyrifos, other pesticides to protect farmworkers MORE (D-N.M.) have filed an amendment to the bill to prevent unauthorized military operations against Iran. Some senators worry that the administration would try to use the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to cover a conflict with Iran. 
 
"No funds may be used to conduct hostilities against the government of Iran, against the armed forces of Iran or in the territory of Iran except pursuant to an act or a joint resolution of Congress specifically authorizing such hostilities," the amendment reads. 
 
With hundreds of amendments filed to the NDAA, it's unclear if it will be able to get a vote.