President Trump vetoed legislation Wednesday that would require his administration to seek clearance from Congress for any military action against Iran.
“This was a very insulting resolution, introduced by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on Nov. 3 by dividing the Republican Party. The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands,” Trump said in a statement.
The resolution, which was introduced by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, would have barred U.S. troops from engaging in hostilities against Iran or any part of its government or military without authorization from Congress. It followed a U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in January.
The Senate passed the resolution in February, with Republicans joining Democrats in support. It was passed by the House on March 11, shortly before Congress turned its full attention to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution stipulated that the U.S. “should not enter a new war without the congressional debate and vote our Constitution requires,” Kaine said in April of the resolution, which was introduced under the War Powers Act.
Trump said in his statement that the resolution was “based on misunderstandings of facts and law. Contrary to the resolution, the United States is not engaged in the use of force against Iran. “
The veto was expected, and the votes in each chamber were far short of the two-thirds majorities needed to override.
The administration has argued that killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani was necessary to prevent imminent attacks on Americans. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in February that the strike at the Baghdad airport “reduced risks to Americans.”
Trump said the strike was “fully authorized” by existing law.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky signed on as co-sponsors of the measure after a briefing by Trump administration officials about the drone strike that killed Suleimani. The two senators said the explanation from Pompeo and other officials was inadequate and condescending to lawmakers who wanted to debate the merits of the strike.