KEY POINTS

  • The House on January 10 approved a War Powers Resolution asserting Congress' sole right to declare war
  • The Senate is expected to approve a similar resolution on February 13
  • The coming together of both Houses on common ground is a welcome sign of bipartisanship

A fifth Republican senator has sided with the Democrats in a concerted bid to limit the war-making powers of president Donald Trump after he pushed the United States to the brink of a war against Iran by ordering the murder of an Iranian general on January 3.

The support of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, for the War Powers Resolution spearheaded by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, ensures the passage of this non-binding resolution when the Senate votes on it Thursday. Only a simple majority of senators (meaning 51 out of 100) is needed to pass the resolution because Democrats are forcing the vote under the War Powers Act.

Moran joins four other GOP senators that will vote for the resolution: Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Todd Young (Indiana). There are 45 Democrats and two Democrat-leaning Independent senators, all of whom are expected to vote for the resolution. This will give the resolution's proponents 52 votes, including the five Republicans.

The new sanctions come three weeks after the US killing of the Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in a missile strike that Washington claimed was preemptive The new sanctions come three weeks after the US killing of the Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in a missile strike that Washington claimed was preemptive Photo: AFP / ATTA KENARE

“The Constitution, in Article I, provides Congress the power to declare war – a responsibility I take seriously," said Moran. "The prospect of military action against Iran has consequences that ought to be considered by the full Congress, on behalf of the people it represents.

The resolution will require Trump to remove U.S. troops "engaged in hostilities" against Iran unless Congress approves either with a declaration of war or a specific authorization for use of military force.

In early January, Democrats said they would force the vote after Trump ordered the airstrike that assasinated Iranian major gneral Qasem Soleimani. This murder triggered a quick escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States, almost leading to a war without congressional authorization. The Senate's all but certain adoption of its version of the War Powers Resolution will follow the adoption of a similar resolution by the House.

On January 10, the House of Representatives approved a similar measure relating to the War Powers Resolution of 1983 that restricts Trump's  authority to strike Iran without congressional approval. The resolution passed by a vote of 224 to 194 and later went to the Senate. The bill is also a concurrent resolution. This means it requires only the approval of both chambers of Congress. It won't go to Trump for his signature.

The resolution was sponsored by freshman Democrat congresswoman and former intelligence analyst Elissa Slotkin from Michigan nearly a week after Trump authorized Soleimani's killing. Democrats and some Republicans were outraged Trump failed to consult Congress in advance of the murder, and saw it as an overreach of executive power.

The House's concurrent resolution "directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military" unless Congress has declared war or specifically authorized engaging in hostilities, or if "such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States."

"We must use this tool of congressional tool of congressional power, or by our silence acquiesce to the growth of the imperial presidency," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, ahead of the vote.