By Katherine Gypson
The U.S. Senate failed to override a White House veto Thursday, bringing an end to a four-month congressional effort to limit presidential power to unilaterally take the United States into war.
The resolution reaffirms the U.S. Congress’ constitutional power to declare war, part of a long-running debate that was revived earlier this year during a time of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. If passed, the resolution would have required U.S. presidents to halt the use of force against Iran unless authorized by Congress.
President Donald Trump vetoed the resolution Wednesday, calling it “very insulting” and said it would have “greatly harmed the president’s ability to protect the United States, its allies, and its partners.”
Members of Congress backed the measure, seeking to exert their power over when the country declares war
Trump described the bipartisan resolution as “introduced by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party.”
But Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia who co-sponsored the resolution in February, said Thursday on the Senate floor, “In no way was this partisan. In no way was it part of a strategy dealing with a November 3 election. And for President Trump to look at a matter of war and peace and constitutional obligations of Congress through the lens of the November election, frankly, shocked me.”
A two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate is required to override a presidential veto. The measure – which also received bipartisan support upon passage in the U.S. House in February – failed to reach that threshold by a vote of 49-44.
Trump ordered a January airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Days later, Iran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack against U.S. forces in Iraq that left more than 100 U.S. service members with diagnosed traumatic brain injuries.
“An airstrike is not war,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, said Thursday in support of the presidential veto. “Defending American lives is not war. And the president has made it clear that he doesn’t desire a war.”