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Republican Support in Senate for War Powers Resolution Grows

By: Martin Li

· Domestic Policy

On Thursday, Congress voted to pass the War Powers Resolution, 224-194. The vote largely followed party lines, but with eight Democrats voting against and three Republicans voting for. It echoed the sentiments of the War Powers Act of 1973 and denounced the killing of Iranian General Suleimani, calling for restricting executive control over military deployment in Iran. This is a concurrent resolution, rather than a joint resolution, meaning that it is non-binding and does not need a presidential signature to pass.

Since the killing of General Suleimani, Iran struck back and launched tens of missiles at American military installations in Iraq and Kurdistan. Since then, there have been no major provocations from either side and the situation has de-escalated.

Of the party defectors, Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) has been most surprising. Considered one of the most loyal Republicans in the House, he has quotes like “Trump’s Ultimate Defender” and “Trump’s Best Buddy” featured on his campaign homepage. He cited his belief in the congressional power to declare war as the reason for his vote and how the Resolution “offers no criticism of the president, no critique.”
Other Republicans have disagreed with Gaetz’s beliefs. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the Resolution “has no power whatsoever,” and only weakens the U.S. “by telling Iran that we are divided." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called the Resolution “unconstitutional” and states that “you cannot have 535 commanders in chief...that we couldn't defend the nation unless they all agree?”
However, a declaration by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia revealed growing GOP support for the resolution in the Senate. Senator Kaine claims that at least 4 Republican senators were willing to “break rank” and vote in favor of the War Powers Resolution due to their dissatisfaction with President Trump in his handling of the situation in Iran. One of Kaine’s supporters, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voiced her agreement with potentially reducing executive war powers: “Congress cannot be sidelined on these important decisions,” she stated to a NYT Reporter.

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