June 26 (UPI) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he will allow a vote that could block President Donald Trump's use of military force against Iran without congressional approval.
On Tuesday McConnell said an amendment to the 2020 defense funding bill, currently under discussion in the Senate, can be voted on as a separate measure. The bipartisan attempt to reduce presidential war powers is sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and has the support of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
While the amendment would require Congress to approve military action against Iran, Udall said in a tweet that the bill "allows force in event of attack on 'the U.S., its territories or possession, or its armed forces' under War Powers Act."
The measure is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, a massive, annual funding of U.S. military forces, which has passed in the Congress and been enacted into law for 59 consecutive years without serious opposition.
McConnell said the vote could go on, but added that foreign enemies could regard it as a sign of weakness in Washington.
"We're not opposed to having the vote and we're working on having that vote, passing NDAA and doing the supplemental [border spending authorization], all this week," McConnell said. "I don't think it's good for this country to see the Iranians observing us arguing over all this, either. So my hope is that it will be defeated. We'll find out by how much of a margin but we hope to defeat it."
Senate Democrats worried that McConnell would force a vote on the NDAA on Wednesday, cutting off any opportunity to debate the proposed amendment. The amendment would be defeated if senators vote along party lines. The Senate currently has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two Independents who typically side with the Democrats.
Senate Democrat leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called McConnell's action "some heartening news," adding that Democrats "should sit down and work out an agreement to have this amendment. It will be voted yes or no, I don't know the answer to that. And then we pass the NDAA. That's the way to go."
The amendment, as currently phrased, would prohibit the White House from using Defense Department funding for the use of force in Iran without prior congressional authorization.