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Senate paves way to limit Trump’s war powers after killing Cotton amendment

The vote to defeat Cotton’s amendment comes as the Senate is set to vote on Kaine’s War Powers resolution on Thursday afternoon. The measure would curb military action against Iran without approval from Congress.

As written, the bill has support from at least five Senate Republicans, giving it the votes needed to pass by a simple majority. Those five Republican senators — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky — are expected to join all 47 Democrats in favor of the resolution.

“In terms of the big picture, I want to make sure this resolution passes and that Congress finally does its darn job,” Young said before casting his vote to kill the Cotton proposal.

A spokeswoman for Cotton defended the amendment as common sense.

“It says a lot about Democrats’ priorities if they consider allowing our troops to kill terrorists who threaten the United States a ‘poison pill,’” said Caroline Tabler, a spokeswoman for Cotton. “This amendment doesn’t authorize the use of force, it simply preserves the president’s authorities as commander-in-chief. It’s hard to see how that’s controversial.”

Kaine launched the War Powers effort more than a month ago, in the days following Trump’s order of an airstrike in Iraq that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general. Trump opposes the War Powers measure, and on Wednesday he took to Twitter to urge senators to vote against it.

Senate GOP leaders also vehemently oppose the effort, which further exposes long-standing divisions among Republicans on foreign policy and national security issues.

Kaine’s resolution would require Trump to cease all hostilities targeting Iran within 30 days unless approved by Congress. The effort, spurred by the U.S. airstrike that killed Soleimani on Jan. 2, was on hold during the Senate’s three-week impeachment trial.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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