A bipartisan group of senators voted 55–45 to end “hostilities” with Iran on Thursday afternoon, but some Senate Republicans claimed that there never was a war to begin with.
Iran and the United States came to the brink of war in January after two weeks of violence killed dozens of Iraqi militiamen and wounded hundreds of U.S. soldiers. Democrats and some Republicans insisted on blocking any further military action without congressional approval, and both chambers of Congress passed a resolution to restrict the president under the War Powers Act for the second time ever in history. But a few Republicans insisted that the conflict with Iran did not rise to the level of war—and so there was no need to vote on war powers.
“There is no war with Iran. An airstrike is not a war,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R–Okla.) said, referring to the missile strike that killed Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. “We're now in the best negotiating position with Iran since 1979.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair James Risch (R–Idaho) insisted that President Donald Trump has used military force “very sparingly” so far.
“There is no clear line of delineation between actual war and the use of kinetic force,” Risch added. “There are things on this earth where we know it when we see it, but we can't define it.”
The Senate resolution orders the president “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran” without a formal declaration of war or other authorization from Congress.