Washington, United States:
The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to stop President Donald Trump from attacking Iran and sharply criticize his foreign policy, despite being acquitted of impeachment a week earlier.
Eight senators from Trump's Republican Party, who hold the majority, opposed their leadership to join the Democrats in a resolution that prohibits any military action against Iran without explicit Congress approval.
"The Senate has just sent a clear shot over the bow – a bipartisan majority of senators don't want the president to go to war without Congress approval," Democratic Senate chairman Chuck Schumer said after the vote.
The resolution will be forwarded to the democratically run House of Representatives, which adopted a similar text last month.
Similar to a previous attempt by Congress to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's devastating offensive in Yemen, Trump will almost certainly veto because lawmakers lack a two-thirds majority to overthrow it.
Shortly before the vote, a missile struck an Iraqi base that housed US troops. The first attack on the site since the December 27 barrage, according to Iraqi and US security forces, killed an American contractor. There were no immediate reports of losses.
The contractor's death triggered an escalating crisis in which Trump ordered a drone attack on Baghdad airport, killing Iran's most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani.
– power of Congress –
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine introduced the resolution after Soleimani's death and was concerned that the United States would plunge into another Middle East war without debate.
Kaine warned of the dire consequences of an escalating conflict with Iran and said his primary goal was to restore Congress' authority to declare war, as set out in the U.S. Constitution.
"An offensive war requires debate and vote in Congress. This shouldn't be a controversial proposal," Kaine said in a speech in the Senate.
The resolution is an exception when the United States "defends itself against an upcoming act."
Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth was more open about Trump.
"My 21-month-old toddler has better self-control than this president," she told reporters.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased since 2018, when Trump withdrew from a denuclearization agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and imposed extensive sanctions to reduce Tehran's regional clout.
Soleimani, head of the Qods Force of the Elite Revolutionary Guards overseas, had a major impact on the clerical regime and was seen by the United States as an orchestration of missile attacks in Iraq.
– Go to the goal defeated guards –
The Senate rejected a request from Senator Tom Cotton, a vocal opponent of Iran, to invalidate the resolution by excluding any military action against "designated terrorist organizations".
The Trump administration classified the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization last year, the first time the United States has done this to a government agency.
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe denied that Trump was looking for war and described the assassination of Soleimani as self-defense.
"There is no war with Iran. An airstrike is not a war. Punishing Iran for murdering an American citizen is not a war," he said.
"In fact, the President's decision to eliminate Soleimani made the war much less likely because it showed Iran that its terrorism would come at a price."
But eight Republicans – all of whom voted to exonerate Trump in his impeachment process – joined the Democrats.
Senator Susan Collins, a closely watched moderate Republican, said the resolution had not halted ongoing activities such as the U.S. Navy patrols around the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial bottleneck for oil supplies.
The Iranian regime should "not interpret these voices as a lack of determination against its aggression and malicious activities in the region," she told reporters.
But the resolution, she said, would show that "no president has the authority to engage our military in an ongoing conflict."
Among other Republicans who voted yes was Mike Lee, who said a classified Trump administration meeting after Soleimani's murder was not informative and the "worst" defense briefing he had ever received.
Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican who decided to convict Trump, voted against restricting Iran.