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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GOP Sen. Mike Lee says Iran briefing did not mention plots against 4 embassies

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the Trump administration did not brief him and other members of Congress that Iran was allegedly plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies, as President Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

Why it matters: The administration has come under fire for declining to provide specifics about the nature of the "imminent" threat that prompted the president to order the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Go deeperArrowJan 12, 2020

Tim Kaine says Senate has votes to pass Iran war powers resolution

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he's secured the 51 Senate votes needed to pass a revised version of his war powers resolution, which would require President Trump to seek approval from Congress before taking further military action against Iran, per the AP.

Why it matters: The bipartisan resolution, which has the backing of Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), illustrates the degree to which the Trump administration's actions against Iran have tested the president's Republican allies.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020

Iran's proxies in the Middle East

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Behrouz Mehri/Getty Staff, Anadolu Agency/Getty Contributor, Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Contributor

Iran has built up a vast network of proxies through which it wields influence across the Middle East, and which could take action to stoke tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Why it matters: The political parties and militias that are influenced by and act on behalf of Iran likely pose a more direct threat to U.S. targets than Iran itself, the Washington Post writes.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020 - World