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Senate fails to override Trump veto on Iran conflict

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has failed in its bid to block President Donald Trump from engaging in further military action against Iran without first seeking approval from the legislative branch.

The Senate fell short on Thursday of the votes needed to override Trump’s veto of a bipartisan resolution that asserted congressional authority on use of military force. Trump rejected the measure Wednesday, calling it “insulting” and an attempt to divide the Republican party ahead of the presidential election.

The override attempt was defeated with 49 senators voting in favor of the override and 44 opposed. The measure needed two-thirds support to be approved.

The resolution’s chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, said the war powers measure was not about Trump or even the presidency, but instead was an important reassertion of congressional power to declare war.

“A bipartisan majority of both houses (of Congress) stood up and made clear that unless there is a carefully reached consensus in Congress that war is necessary, we should not send our troops into harm’s way,” Kaine said after the vote. “I’m hopeful that despite President Trump’s veto, the bipartisan support for this resolution will restrain his future behavior when the lives of our men and women in uniform are at stake.”

The resolution was approved after members of Congress from both parties expressed concern following a U.S.-launched airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq in January. Lawmakers said they feared that Iran and the U.S. were perilously close to all-out conflict and moved to restrain further actions Trump might take against Iran.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Even so, Trump said the resolution implied that his own constitutional authority to use military force was limited to defending the United States and its forces against imminent attack.

“That is incorrect,” Trump said in a statement. “We live in a hostile world of evolving threats and the Constitution recognizes that the president must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!”

Kaine said Trump’s comments misconstrued the Constitution and mis-read the intentions of Congress in approving the resolution.

“It’s not insulting. It’s our job,” he said of the war-powers measure. “It was introduced to stop an unnecessary war.”

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