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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center). Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate blocked an amendment that would have required congressional approval in advance of an attack on Iran. The vote was 50-40, with four Republicans among those voting for the measure.

Why it matters: Per the AP: The U.S. military has, in recent years, been "deployed under war authorizations passed in 2001 and 2002 for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan." Lawmaker have unsuccessfully tried to pass new war powers acts, with the House voting to repeal those authorizations last week.

The big picture: Friday's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) needed 60 votes to be included in the $750 billion spending bill. Heightened tensions between the two countries have brought back fears that the U.S. could be on course for war with Iran. President Trump recently asserted he does not need congressional approval to order military action against Iran.

What they're saying: "None of our Democratic friends would be supporting this if there were a Democratic president. This clearly restricts administrations of both parties who we've seen take measured responses to Iranian acts of terror over the years going back to 1979," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the amendment this week.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the House to include a similar measure in its version of the defense spending bill, expected for debate next month, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeper: How Trump and Tehran came to the brink of war

Go deeper

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.

The deplatforming fight shifts to the courts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Capitol riot and tech firms' sweeping attempt in its wake to dislodge the online far right are kicking up efforts to have the courts settle knotty questions about online speech and power.

Why it matters: Legal battles could force the people angry at Big Tech to bring more rigor to arguments that have often devolved into messy sideshows.