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Effort to 'hamstring' President Trump's war powers against Iran fails in Senate

Effort to 'hamstring' President Trump's war powers against Iran fails in Senate

An amendment designed to limit President Donald Trump's ability to use military force against Iran failed in the Senate on Friday after failing to meet the 60-vote threshold for legislation.

After a lengthy 10-hour vote, the resolution fell short of the necessary 60-vote threshold for passage.

The amendment was authored and put forward by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who said on the Senate floor Thursday that the president's “reckless diplomacy" amid recent tensions with the Islamic dictatorship "is dangerously reminiscent of the run up to the war with Iraq.”

Voting on the amendment — which would have required President Trump to seek congressional approval before taking military action against Iran — began at 5 a.m. and was held open through the afternoon in order to allow for some senators with early flights to leave for their weeklong Independence Day recess and others to return from this week's Democratic debates in Miami. This ended up setting a record for longest Senate vote in modern history.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned on the floor Thursday that the “timing couldn’t be worse” for the amendment, given the current state of affairs, adding that the amendment was redundant to the provisions in the Constitution and would send the wrong message.

"The redundancy is actually damaging," Rubio explained. "It’s only going to reinforce this belief among some in the regime that they can go further than they can.”

The senator went on to say that the amendment "increases the chance of war" because it could encourage the Iranian regime to "miscalculate" and attack thinking that the United States is constrained.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the amendment "dangerous" Friday, saying that it would "hamstring the executive branch from reacting quickly in a crisis and prevent the U.S. from taking decisive action."

“We don’t want war with Iran," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in a statement. "I agree with the president’s restraint, but if Iran threatens to attack again, we should leave all options open."

The only Senate Republicans who voted for the measures were Mike Lee, Utah; Rand Paul, Ky.; Jerry Moran, Kan.; and Susan Collins, Maine. Paul and Lee are longtime proponents of reclaiming Congress' constitutional war powers from the executive branch. Last year, Lee was one of the key sponsors of a high-profile Senate amendment to restrict the U.S. involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen over constitutional concerns.

"The Constitution is clear: Only Congress can declare war," said Paul in a statement about the amendment. "For too long, Congress has largely ceded the most important of its responsibilities to presidents of both parties.”

On Monday, President Trump hit Iran with new sanctions in response to Iran's shooting down an American drone last week.

"The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He's respected within his country," the president said of Monday's sanctions. "Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I'm about to sign will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's Office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support."

Trump signed off on the sanctions days after he said he called off a retaliatory airstrike against Iranian assets in response to the drone being shot down.

Update: This story has been updated to include remarks from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

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