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Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday vetoed a war powers resolution that would have curbed his ability to direct military action against Iran without Congress' authorization.

Why it matters: The bipartisan measure came after Trump ordered a strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January, bringing the two nations to the brink of war.

  • The Senate passed the resolution 55-45 in February. Eight Republican senators — Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — joined Democrats in voting for the resolution.
  • The House passed the resolution 227-186 in March. It's unlikely that either chamber will have the two-thirds majority necessary to override Trump's veto.

What he's saying:

"Today, I vetoed S.J. Res. 68, which purported to direct me to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces in hostilities against Iran. This was a very insulting resolution, introduced by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party.  The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands.
In addition, S.J. Res. 68 is based on misunderstandings of facts and law.  Contrary to the resolution, the United States is not engaged in the use of force against Iran.  Four months ago, I took decisive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani while he was in Iraq.  Iran responded by launching a series of missiles at our forces stationed in Iraq.  No one was killed by these attacks.  Further, the strike against Soleimani was fully authorized by law, including by the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 and Article II of the Constitution. 
Finally, S.J. Res. 68 would have greatly harmed the President’s ability to protect the United States, its allies, and its partners.  The resolution implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack.  That is incorrect.  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!
Congress should not have passed this resolution. "

Go deeper

Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

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Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.