Sen. Mike Lee wants more congressional review before war actions are taken

Senators Mike Lee, R-Utah, Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, speak on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 13, 2018. Lee and two other U.S. senators will introduce their broadest effort yet on Tuesday to claw back war powers from the White House.

Senators Mike Lee, R-Utah, Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, speak on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 13, 2018. Lee and two other U.S. senators will introduce their broadest effort yet on Tuesday to claw back war powers from the White House. (Joshua Roberts, Reuters)



WASHINGTON — Three U.S. senators who have campaigned to clamp down on foreign weapons sales and pare back military action without congressional approval will introduce their broadest effort yet on Tuesday to claw back war powers from the White House.

Republican Mike Lee, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, and Independent Bernie Sanders will unveil their National Security Powers Act on Tuesday, sources familiar with the measure said.

The legislation has three parts — one to increase Congress' control over the authorization of military actions, another to reform the review of major foreign weapons sales, and a third to increase Congress' control over the declaration of "national emergencies," which can be used to justify weapons sales or military strikes.

"More than ever before, presidents are sending men and women into battle without public debate, and making major policy decisions, like massive arms sales, without congressional input," Murphy said in a statement.

The bill is the latest in a series of efforts by lawmakers to cut back on big weapons sales to countries in volatile regions and push both Republican and Democratic presidents to end support for countries involved in conflicts devastating to civilians such as the civil war in Yemen.

Efforts to repeal Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, first enacted decades ago for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are also making their way through Congress.

The Senate and House passed legislation sponsored by Lee, Murphy, and Sanders in 2019 to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's involvement in the conflict in Yemen, but it did not survive then-President Donald Trump's veto.

The Republican ex-president also successfully vetoed resolutions passed in Congress to block huge weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A path forward for the new legislation was not immediately clear. It would need to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

Representative Jim McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, is backing a companion measure in the House.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle

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Patricia Zengerle

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