Several Republicans May Back Kaine’s War Powers Resolution Checking Trump

January 9, 2020 3:31 p.m.

At least two more Republicans say they support the “intent” of Sen. Tim Kaine’s War Powers resolution, which he is bringing up for a vote after the President Trump-ordered assassination of an Iranian general escalated U.S. tensions with the country.

The Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Todd Young (R-IN), did however indicate that they still had some concerns about the current language of Kaine’s resolution.

Collins told reporters she’s had “constructive conversations” with Kaine and gave him some suggestions for adjusting his resolution.

“I agree with his overall intent that Congress should reassert its constitutional authority in this area,” Collins said. “I am concerned about some of the language having consequences that would be unfortunate right now, and I want to make sure that the President retains his ability as commander of chief to respond to imminent threats.”

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Earlier Thursday, Young reportedly told reporters his views on the resolution were similar to Collins’.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) — who supported a similar amendment that Kaine made to a defense authorization bill in the past — is also reportedly undecided on whether to support the newest resolution.

Already, having made some tweaks to the original language, Kaine has secured the votes of Republican Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Lee and Paul both announced their support while voicing frustration over a Trump administration briefing Wednesday about the strike on General Soleimani.

Lee and Paul have a history of voicing concerns that Congress has shown too much deference to the Executive Branch when it comes to matters of military force.

Lee has stressed that he believed the Soleimani strike was appropriate, but that he was concerned about future actions the Trump administration might take without Congress’ permission. Asked Thursday if the Kaine could pick up enough Republican votes to get the resolution onto Trump’s desk, Lee said, “I think so.”

Among the changes Lee asked Kaine to make to the resolution was to remove language specifically about Trump.

“I’ve agreed to drop those two paragraphs, because they’re just not needed,” Kaine said Thursday, “and that way, this should be about any president. It’s not just Republican presidents who’ve exceeded their reach on this stuff.”

Under 1973’s War Powers Act, Kaine can bring up the resolution for a vote on his own and only a bare majority is required to pass it, meaning that if Kaine can find four total GOP votes, the resolution is likely headed to the President’s desk.

Under his resolution, the administration would be required to withdraw U.S. troops from hostilities with Iran after 30 days, absent a declaration of war or other congressional approval for the use of force. The resolution allows the President to use force without Congress’ approval if he is addressing an “imminent” threat.

President Trump would likely veto such a resolution, as he did with a War Powers resolution related to Yemen that both chambers of Congress approved last year. The Senate was unable to override the Yemen resolution veto. It’s almost guaranteed that Kaine’s resolution, if passed initially by the Senate, would meet a similar fate.

However, Kaine on Thursday stressed that even if Congress couldn’t override the President’s veto, the resolution could have some effect on his administration’s conduct.

Bringing up the vetoed Yemen resolution, Kaine said Trump still “stopped doing what we were complaining of, it had an impact. They stopped fueling Saudi jets on the way to Yemen.”

The House is considering its own War Powers resolution, which is expected to receive a final vote on Thursday. Kaine’s resolution could receive a Senate vote as early as Tuesday.

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