Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants senators to vote on restricting the ability of the Trump administration to go to war with Iran, but he suggested Monday that vote should not take place until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.
“One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into a war is to have a robust, open debate, and for Congress to have some say,” the Democrat from New York said on the Senate floor.
He again touted an amendment from a group of Democratic senators that would generally block the use of funds authorized by the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill for military operations against Iran. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has been leading the effort.
“Considering the gravity of the situation with, Democrats believe the full Senate should be present to vote on the Udall amendment. Leader McConnell is no doubt aware that several members of this body will be absent this week for the Democratic presidential debates,” Schumer said. “We should wait to have a vote until the full body is present.”
In effect, Schumer was asking both for a vote on the germane amendment and to delay action on completing the defense authorization until after the debates on Wednesday and Thursday in Miami.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren have qualified for the debate stage, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
It is, of course, possible to fly back-and-forth between Miami and the Washington, D.C., area with scheduled service multiple times per day, but that is something the candidates and their campaigns would probably rather avoid.
There is also no guarantee that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would put the Iran-related amendment in the queue for consideration, especially if there are objections from other senators to amendment votes.
“I worry that the president continues down a path of escalation. Besides a small group of hawkish advisers and Republican cheerleaders in Congress, nobody wants a war with Iran,” Schumer said. “Americans don’t want to see their sons and daughters die in a war that seems to go on forever without a conclusion, and while I’m not convinced the president is eager to go to war, I’m very concerned that he could bumble us into war.”