US Senate fails to override veto of Iran resolution

US Senate fails to override Trump veto of Iran war resolution amid prisoner exchange negotiations
3 min read
08 May, 2020
As the US and Iran negotiate an exchange of prisoners, the US Senate failed to override Trump's veto of a resolution placing checks on military action against Iran
Trump called the Senate resolution 'insulting' [Getty]

The US Senate failed on Thursday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a resolution that would have controlled his ability to wage war against Iran by requiring him to obtain congressional authorisation for military action.

The vote in the 100-member senate was 49-44 in favour of the resolution. This was short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the US president

The resolution was championed by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and had passed both the Republican-majority Senate and the Democrat-led House of Representatives earlier this year despite opposition from the US president.

Trump vetoed the resolution on Wednesday, calling it “very insulting” before accusing the Democrats of pushing the matter for their own interests.

Kaine responded by saying that Congress was doing its job by trying to assert its authority regarding the use of military force.

“It is not a partisan effort. It was bipartisan from the very beginning,” Kaine told reporters on a conference call before the vote, Reuters said.

“It was introduced to stop a rush to an unnecessary war,” he added.

The war powers resolution was introduced weeks after Trump ordered a strike in January that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport.

Following the strike, a number of skirmishes raised fears of renewed conflict in the Middle East, angering members of Congress from both parties who claimed they had not been sufficiently briefed.

It was the seventh veto of Trump’s three-year-long presidency - one has been overridden. Trump’s fellow Republicans, who hold a 53 to 47 seat majority in the Senate, rarely break with the president.

Prisoner exchange

The presidential veto came as Iran and the US were negotiating a deal that would release a United States military veteran held by Iran in exchange for an Iranian-American doctor detained by the Americans, according to a senior Iranian official.

The negotiations took place as crippling US sanctions force Iran to struggle through a coronavirus pandemic.

The senior Iranian official, Abolfaz Mehrabadi, deputy director of the Iranian Interests Section at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, told The New York Times that the negotiations aim to exchange the veteran, Michael R. White, 48, who has been held in Iran for nearly two years, for the Iranian-American doctor, whom he would not identify.

Mehrabadi said “the talks have not reached a conclusion yet.”

“If the Iranians have a symmetrical deal on the table we would love for the administration to take it and bring Michael home,” Jonathan Franks, a spokesperson for White’s family, said.

Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokeswoman said bringing home detained Americans was a priority for Trump.

“We work with the Swiss every day on the health, safety, and release of US citizens wrongfully held in Iran,” she said.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran represents US interests in the country

Agencies contributed to this report.

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