Congress May Block the Surge

E.J. Dionne writes about possible Congressional responses if Bush proceeds with escalating the war in Iraq:

As a result, Democrats are quietly but urgently seeking ways of pressuring the president to change course, including the possibility of having Congress reconsider its original authorization of force, passed in October 2002.

Even Bush’s critics doubt that the broadest measure, cutting off funds for the president’s policies, could be effective or has the votes to pass. Yet Bush’s opponents will be emboldened if he embarks on a surge, especially if it is not linked to what Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, calls “milestones” for political reconciliation that the Iraqi government will have to reach. Levin, whose views are shared by many Democrats, also insists that any surge should be part of an “overall plan of troop reduction” that would begin “within four to six months.”

Given the limited options, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, has suggested to his colleagues that the strongest response to the surge would be a congressional resolution explicitly opposing the step.

Whereas cutting off funds is a “hollow threat,” Biden said in an interview this week, a congressional resolution could have a powerful effect if it drew support from the significant number of Republican senators who are increasingly alienated from Bush’s policies. Biden, who expects to offer his proposal at a meeting of Democratic senators today, argued that an anti-surge resolution might not bind the president but would exert considerable pressure on him to reconsider his approach.

More intriguing, Biden is studying whether Congress might reconsider the original Iraq war resolution, now as out of date as the administration’s prewar claims. The resolution includes references to a “significant chemical and biological weapons capability” that Iraq didn’t have and repeated condemnations of “the current Iraqi regime,” i.e., the Saddam Hussein regime that fell long ago. In effect, the resolution authorizes a war on an enemy who no longer exists and for purposes that are no longer relevant.

I would add to this that Congress should investigate whether George Bush exceeded the authority granted to him. The IWR was passed due to claims of WMD which have been found to be fabricated. At the time the war began there was no sign of any threat to our security from WMD, and as the inspectors had been allowed in there was no justification for using force at that time.

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