Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with reporters

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with reporters on February 13, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Senate Defeats Cruz Amendment That Would Have Authorized War With Iran

One observer called the Texas Republican's proposal "pernicious."


The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 55-41 to reject an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, that would have empowered the president to wage war against Iran.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.) along with Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) supported the amendment while 10 Republicans opposed it.


The U.S. Senate is set to vote Tuesday afternoon on a Republican amendment that would explicitly authorize the president to take military action against Iranian forces.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the amendment's author, is looking to attach the measure to a resolution that—if passed—would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force in Iraq.

The amendment's text contends that Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution "empowers the president to use force against forces of Iran, a state responsible for conducting and directing attacks against United States forces in the Middle East and to take actions for the purpose of ending Iran's escalation of attacks on, and threats to, United States interests."

Brian Finucane, a senior adviser for the Crisis Group's U.S. program, called the Cruz amendment "pernicious" and warned that it would "have Congress endorse broad Article II authority for POTUS to use force against Iran, [without] even a caveat about actions amounting to 'war' in the constitutional sense."

The amendment's prospects for passage are unclear, but the Senate is chock-full of Iran hawks—including some on the Democratic side. The amendment needs 60 votes to pass.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement on Tuesday voicing opposition to "sunsetting any military force authorizations in the Middle East."

"Our terrorist enemies aren't sunsetting their war against us," McConnell said. "Tehran wants to push us out of Iraq and Syria. Why should Congress make that easier?"

Cruz has introduced virtually identical amendments in the recent past. In 2021, the Texas Republican unsuccessfully pushed an amendment that would have empowered the president to "use force against forces of Iran."

Ryan Costello, policy director of the National Iranian American Council, warned at the time that the Cruz amendment would "pre-authorize war with Iran."

The vote on Cruz's new amendment will come just days after President Joe Biden authorized—without congressional approval—airstrikes targeting groups in Syria that the Pentagon said were "affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps," heightening concerns over what's become a dangerous proxy war.

Following the airstrikes, which were launched in response to an attack in northeast Syria that killed an American contractor, Biden said that "the United States does not, does not, I emphasize, seek conflict with Iran."

"But be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people," the president added.

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