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In Lead Up To Senate Vote, Kaine Says War With Iran Would Be A “Colossal Mistake”

Watch the full floor speech here.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, delivered a floor speech calling on his colleagues to pass his bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent President Trump from starting an unauthorized war with Iran. The amendment, which the Senate will vote on tomorrow, would prohibit funds from being used for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

Below are key excerpts from the floor speech:

“Why do I believe that war should not be started without a vote of Congress? The Democratic leader outlined the clear constitutional history in this regard. It is Congress that declares war, and the history and context of that provision in Article I is very, very plain.

“At that time in the world, in 1787, war was for the executive. It was for the king, the emperor, the monarch, the sultan, the pope. But the drafters of the American Constitution wanted to dramatically change history in this nation and say that war, for the United States of America, should be a matter not for the executive to declare, but instead, for the people's elected legislative body to declare.”


“It is the value that underlies the constitutional provision. Why did the framers put the question of war as a matter for the legislature? A congressional debate and vote is what is necessary for the American public and Congress to fully understand the stakes. To explain to the public and educate them why war is necessary, and especially and most importantly, the debate and the vote by the legislative body is the evidence of support for the mission that American troops deserve if they're going to be sent into harm's way where they could be killed or injured, or see their friends killed or injured.

“…There could be nothing more immoral in the public space than to order our troops into harm's way where they would risk injury and death if Congress is unwilling to consider and debate and vote on whether a war is in the national interest. You have to go risk your life, you have to go be with others and potentially be injured or killed, but we don't want to have to vote on it. Could anything be more immoral than that?

“And so what this provision does, is just say that if we're going to be in a war with Iran, and by example with any nation, Congress should have the guts and the backbone to come here and cast a vote before we order our troops into harm's way.”

“This President is holding the Article 1 branch in contempt. Will we grovel and accept that monumental disrespect or will we insist that the President must follow the law? For the record, I believe that a war with Iran would be a colossal mistake. Its cause would be laying significantly at our feet. By the United States and the Trump Administration tearing up a diplomatic deal, tearing up over the objections or over the recommendations of the then-Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tearing it up over the recommendations of our allies, tearing it up over the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, we tore up a diplomatic deal and thus raised the risk of an unnecessary war that would be catastrophic.

“After 18 years of two wars in the Middle East, both of which where we still have troops deployed, we should not be fomenting, encouraging, blundering toward, rushing into a third war in the Middle East. It would suck lives and resources away from more pressing priorities of our citizens. Bogging ourselves down in another war against a smaller, weaker, far-away nation would divert our attention from acting firmly to counter our chief competitor, China. Furthermore, another war in the Middle East would represent another broken promise by this President.”

In July of 2018, Kaine wrote a piece in the Atlantic warning that President Trump was blundering toward war with Iran. Last week, Kaine sent a letter to President Trump calling on him to explain his recent decisions to deploy additional troops to the Middle East. For years, Kaine has been the leading voice in Congress raising concerns over Presidents’ efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization. Kaine has introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, reassert Congress’ role in authorizing military action, and take away the blank check that multiple presidents have used to fight wars across the globe.