Senate Democrats Up The Ante
Determined to challenge President Bush, Senate Democrats are drafting legislation to limit the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq, effectively revoking the broad authority Congress granted in 2002, officials said Thursday.
Friday's Post has more details:
Senate Democratic leaders intend to unveil a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in favor of narrower authority that restricts the military's role and begins withdrawals of combat troops.
"I've had enough of 'nonbinding,' " said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who is helping to draft the new Democratic proposal. The 2002 war resolution, he said, is an obvious target.
"The authorization that we gave the president back in 2002 is completely, completely outdated, inappropriate to what we're engaged in today," he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) began calling for a reauthorization of the war early last month and raised it again last week, during a gathering in the office of Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Participants included Kerry, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (Mich.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.). Those Democratic senators have emerged as an unofficial war council representing the caucus's wide range of views.
"We gave the president that power to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein," Biden said of the 2002 resolution in a speech last week before the Brookings Institution. "The WMD was not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq."
Biden and Levin are drafting language to present to their colleagues when the Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, following a week-long recess. The new framework would set a goal for withdrawing combat brigades by March 31, 2008, the same timetable established by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Once the combat phase ends, troops would be restricted to assisting Iraqis with training, border security and counterterrorism.
Senior Democratic aides said the proposed resolution would be sent directly to the Senate floor for action, without committee review, possibly as an amendment to a homeland security bill scheduled for debate next week.
Democrats are showing signs that they will no longer be sidetracked by debating the war on Bush's terms, namely the surge. Instead, Democrats are now ready to talk about the endgame and redirecting our focus back to the real war on terror, against Al Qaeda.
One Democrat said the legislation could remain silent on the issue of Bush's troop increase and noted that Reid had said he was ready to move beyond the deployment of more troops.
At the same time, several officials noted that any explicit authority for U.S. troops to confront al-Qaida would effectively bless Bush's decision to dispatch about 3,500 troops to the volatile Anbar Province in the western part of Iraq.
As it should. The Democrats should wholeheartedly endorse the al-Anbar part of this surge, and insist that our efforts be focused on Al Qaeda in Iraq. sealing the borders, and pulling back to safe bases while the Iraqis take over in the cities.