Jan 11, 2020

GOP Sen. Mike Lee signs onto Sanders' push to block military funds for Iran

Sen. Mike Lee in March 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) agreed to co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders' "No War Against Iran Act," CNN reports and Sanders confirmed Saturday on Twitter.

What's happening: The legislation seeks to deny funding from the Pentagon for use of military force in Iran, which it calls "unauthorized" in light of Congress not approving the lethal strike on top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

What he's saying: "War, generally speaking, is something we want to avoid," Lee said on Saturday at the Utah Eagle Forum, following the senators' announced partnership on the legislation.

  • "President Donald Trump has, in my view, been more respectful and more restrained in his exercise of his commander-in-chief role than any other president in my lifetime," Lee added on Saturday — couching his criticism of Wednesday's classified briefing on the Soleimani strike, led by Trump's top national security officials.
  • Lee told Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) he would support a war powers resolution which aims to "vote in Congress to prevent further escalation of hostilities with Iran," if Kaine removed language that criticized Trump, he said Saturday.

Background: Lee called Wednesday's Soleimani briefing the "worst" he's ever seen. He said it was "insulting and demeaning" that briefers instructed senators not to debate the appropriateness of further military action against Iran.

"As United States Senators, we often disagree on many issues. But standing up for the Constitution is not about partisanship. The Founding Fathers were absolutely clear. They wanted to ensure that our country avoided needless conflict and they understood that presidential war-making would be harmful to our democracy."
— the senators' joint Saturday statement to CNN

Go deeper: House passes war powers resolution condemning military action against Iran

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George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas and other chemicals and devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.