THE U.S. SENATE took steps Thursday to make sure that President Donald J. Trump cannot unilaterally take action against Iran without talking to the legislative branch of government first.

The Iran War Powers Act puts restraints on the chief executive and forces him to present evidence before ordering another attack.

And no matter how you feel about the attacks on Iran, or whether the action taken against Iranian general Quasem Soleimani was justified or the right decision, this is how government is supposed to work.

There are three branches of government for a reason. The founders wanted to make sure that there was a system of checks and balances that guaranteed that no one portion of that governing system could act unilaterally or in its own interests without regard for the will of the people.

In other words, everybody has to be accountable.

And that is a good thing, no matter which party you choose to support.

The executive branch without limitations is nothing but a monarchy. And no one wants that.

Getting out from under one of those arrangements was how this nation got here in the first place.

But there is something else to point out as the debate begins over the actions taken Thursday.

This is exactly what should be happening — and why whom you put in office is so important.

There is no election for the U.S. House or the Senate that should be taken lightly — never, ever.

Trump is not the first president to act in seeming defiance of the limits placed on his actions or within legal boundaries, but with reasonable concerns raised about his conclusions. And there is more than one example of a Congress looking the other way.

So while the Democrats might be quick to point fingers, their house isn’t clean either.

In fact, ironically, there are many who have talked about how former President Barack Obama did the same type of thing — many times — just under other circumstances.

A healthy debate about what actions should be taken to protect this nation is never bad.

And if the Congress can put a cap on its leaky faucets and keep classified and important information about the discussions concerning the defense of this nation confidential, then this will be a good step toward setting an international policy that is strong and has teeth.

This country’s sovereignty and the protection of its people are not political footballs or fodder for tweets and partisan attacks. And it is time that both parties, Washington bureaucrats and the president acknowledge that and act accordingly.

The United States cannot afford to appear weak in front of its enemies or irresolute in the eyes of its allies.

A unified policy and no more political back-biting, that is what this nation needs. Maybe this is a first step to making that happen.

The current state of affairs in Washington does not exactly lend itself to trust. The battles that are going on post-impeachment are not over and what is without a doubt going to be a contentious and bitter campaign season, is just beginning.

Keeping an eye on power is something both parties should champion.

And when there is a Democratic president in the future, those rules — and the outrage should any of the boundaries be overstepped — should be applied just as vociferously.

The rules don’t change just because your guy is in office.

The ends do not justify the means either.

The American people should expect a whole lot less hypocrisy from both sides of the political aisle — and the Fourth Estate, the press, should be prepared to point it out when and if it occurs.

That is how a nation stays strong and its leadership learns its place.