Virginia senator wants Congress to stand between president and war

Virginia senator wants Congress to stand between president and war
Conflict with Iran triggers controversy in Congress, as lawmakers once again weigh when a president can take action without their permission. (Source: Gray DC)

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Conflict with Iran triggers controversy in Congress, as lawmakers once again weigh when a president can take action without their permission.

Looming fears of another war in the Middle East are subsiding, as – at least publicly -- Iran and the U.S. both signal an end to recent tit for tat strikes. But, if the simmering conflict heats back up, Sen. Tim Kaine argues Congress should stand between the president and military action.

“We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress votes on it.,” he said, “We shouldn’t let a president do whatever a president wants.”

The constitution gives lawmakers the power to declare war. But, Congress hasn’t done so since World War II, and in the years since, it granted presidents greater and greater authority to take military action on their own. Kaine says it’s time for lawmakers to pull back their power.

"This is not a partisan issue, Congresses of both parties under presidents of both parties have been chicken," said Kaine, "it’s time for Congress to reassert the role."

Kaine’s resolution – and a version that will pass the Democratic House Thursday, would only limit the president’s power to hit Iran. Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA) calls that an overreaction to last week’s strike on terrorist and Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.

"The president has every right to do what he did," Riggleman said of the strike.

Before getting to Congress, Riggleman served as an intelligence officer, tracking Iranian bomb technology. He said he respects Sen. Kaine and his position, but now is not the time for this discussion.

Riggleman said he does think Congress should take its power back, "but, to say that all of a sudden we have to have a resolution on self-defense, based on what’s happening in real-time, I think it’s premature."

He said it would be smarter to consider the idea after the Iranian conflict is resolved.

The Senate could vote on Kaine’s resolution as early as next week.

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