In another of our era’s party-line votes on congressional efforts to put a lasso around our erratic, scofflaw president, the House voted by a 224-194 margin to approve a measure under the 1973 War Powers Resolution ordering the president to cease and desist military action against Iran within 30 days. The motion included an exemption for some future emergency contingency but was clear motivated by opposition to Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian military leader Qasam Soleimani and rattle sabers towards Tehran without any congressional authorization or even advance notice.
Eight Democrats and three Republicans broke party-ranks on this measure. One of the Republicans, Matt Gaetz of Florida, is one of Trump’s staunchest House allies, but he was also the cosponsor of an amendment to the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act banning a congressionally unauthorized military action towards Iran. Their amendment was dropped at the administration’s request backed by a veto threat.
Tim Kaine is offering a Senate counterpart to this House resolution, but there’s a legal wrinkle. The House measure is a concurrent resolution, which need not be signed and cannot be vetoed by the president, which makes it a bit of a hortatory gesture. Kaine’s measure is a joint resolution, which Trump must sign or veto, but will most certainly veto, with the two-thirds vote needed to override that veto a distant fantasy (though libertarian-ish Republican senators Lee and Paul are indicating they will support it). The original War Powers Resolution of 1973 was indeed passed via a veto override. But those were different times, when Republican presidents didn’t have a death-grip on their party.