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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 TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol 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 Kaine'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics Robert E. Lee statue removed from US Capitol MORE (D-Va.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRepublicans wrestle over removing Trump Lawmakers, leaders offer condolences following the death of Capitol Police officer GOP senators urging Trump officials to not resign after Capitol chaos MORE (R-Utah) spearheaded the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyFlags, signs and other items left behind in Capitol riot to be preserved as historical artifacts Laptop stolen from Pelosi's office during Capitol riots Merkley says Capitol rioters stole laptop from his office MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal Former Sanders spokesperson: Progressives 'shouldn't lose sight' of struggling Americans during pandemic 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (I-Vt.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers push back on late Trump terror designation for Yemen's Houthis Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol McConnell vows 'painstaking investigation' and 'thorough review' of Capitol security MORE (D-Conn.), and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' 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 DurbinDick DurbinSchumer says Democrats will probe extremist groups after Capitol attack Trump's legacy is discord and division Schumer calls for 25th Amendment to be invoked after Capitol riots MORE (D-Ill.) and Tom UdallTom UdallSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes We can achieve our democratic ideals now by passing the For the People Act Haaland nomination generates excitement in Native American communities 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.