President Donald Trump vetoed the Iran War Powers Resolution on Wednesday, which would have restricted his ability to take military action against the Iranian regime.
Update: The Senate failed Thursday to override Trump’s veto, voting 49-44 in its favor, short of a simple majority as well as the two-thirds majority required for an override.
The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), was introduced in January after Trump’s airstrike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. Soleimani, who led the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, directed local militias to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Democrats immediately spoke out against Trump’s action, despite the fact that it was entirely successful, there were no civilian casualties, and Iranian retaliation was limited to missile strikes on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, which killed no one. Many analysts concluded — however reluctantly — that Trump had scored a “win.”
However, Democrats accused Trump of fomenting a war — which never happened — and of lacking a “strategy.” In response, they introduced legislation designed to prevent him from taking similar actions against Iran again.
Democrats who had defended President Barack Obama when he went to war in Libya in 2011 without any congressional authorization or direct U.S. interest at stake suddenly discovered constitutional objections to Trump’s actions to protect U.S. diplomats.
The Iran War Powers Resolution passed both Houses because some Republicans, seizing an opportunity to oppose the decades-long expansion of the president’s war powers, voted for it — including, in the Senate, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
Only six Republicans voted for the resolution in the House, plus newly-Independent Justin Amash of Michigan.
Today, I vetoed S.J. Res. 68, which purported to direct me to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces in hostilities against Iran. This was a very insulting resolution, introduced by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party. The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands.
In addition, S.J. Res. 68 is based on misunderstandings of facts and law. Contrary to the resolution, the United States is not engaged in the use of force against Iran. Four months ago, I took decisive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani while he was in Iraq. Iran responded by launching a series of missiles at our forces stationed in Iraq. No one was killed by these attacks. Further, the strike against Soleimani was fully authorized by law, including by the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 and Article II of the Constitution.
Finally, S.J. Res. 68 would have greatly harmed the President’s ability to protect the United States, its allies, and its partners. The resolution implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the President must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!
Congress should not have passed this resolution.
Congress will now attempt to override the veto, which will require a two-thirds majority in both Houses.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.