As fear of a conflict with Iran rises, Democrats want to make clear that they will not support any offensive military action against the country unless there is prior authorization from Congress. But they have already come to the realization that their message will have little practical effect, as the Republican-led Senate won’t pass a duo of Democratic measures.
Last week, the Democratic-led House passed a bill that included a provision to repeal the post-September 11 authorization for use of military force, which the Trump administration may use as a legal justification for a war with Iran. This week, Senate Democrats have pressured Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to require congressional approval to fund any such conflict as an amendment to the annual, must-pass defense policy bill.
Neither effort is expected to succeed, leaving Democrats with few remaining options to influence the Trump administration’s Iran strategy.
Senate Democrats are weighing whether to block the National Defense Authorization Act if they are not allowed a vote on a bipartisan amendment requiring congressional consent for military action against Iran.
“Escalation happens very quickly in the Middle East,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer explaining why Democrats want to limit President Donald Trump’s abilities. “Without a steady hand at the helm, without a coherent plan or strategy — things the President has lacked since the moment he took office — the danger of bumbling into war is acute.”
It’s not clear if Schumer could hold all 47 members of caucus together against the bill. Several moderate Democrats, especially those in swing states, might not want to vote against the NDAA because it typically has broad bipartisan support and this year includes a pay raise for service members.