Unorthodox Senate Deal Clears Path for Vote on Iran Amendment

June 27, 2019by Patrick Kelley
The U.S. Capitol Building at dusk on January 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Edelman/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders struck an unusual deal Wednesday afternoon to hold a vote on language that would block President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval, paving the way for a final vote on the massive Pentagon policy measure Thursday.

But the vote on the Iran amendment will happen Friday, to accommodate Senate Democrats participating in presidential debates this week, a GOP aide said. If the chamber adopts the language, which has the support of at least two Republican senators, it would then be retroactively included in the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill.

Democrats had threatened to filibuster the typically bipartisan defense bill unless the Iran amendment received a vote Friday, so the seven Democratic senators running for president could weigh in.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposes the Iran language, said Wednesday the amendment vote would begin in the morning and be held open for several hours.

“We should put this issue to rest before, before we break for the Fourth of July recess,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Holding up the defense authorization bill is not an acceptable outcome.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., one of the amendment’s sponsors, said he believes the amendment would have a 60-vote threshold to pass.

“It’s so important that everybody be on the record on this,” said Kaine, a leading voice of the issue of congressional authorization for wars. “We could not let the NDAA go by when we were 10 minutes away from a war without having this discussion with the troops and the public,” he added, alluding to President Donald Trump’s claim that he called off a strike against Iran last week with minutes to spare.

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Andrew Clevenger contributed to this report.

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