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The Collective
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Wrote Senator Edward M. Kennedy today at HuffPo (on the heels of his speech today at the National Press Club-video at the HuffPo link):

Today, I introduced legislation to reclaim the people’s right to a full voice in the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. My bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation unless and until Congress approves the president’s plan.

Congress must exert its constitutional authority and demand a vote before any escalation in Iraq.

Here’s the deal:  while the Senator is clearly within his rights to pursue such a legislative action, for it is be successful he would need substantial support within the Congress itself.  It is clear, as John Dickerson reports in Slate today, that Kennedy clearly lacks such support:

Senate Democratic leaders say they are merely being sensible. They don’t want an effort to stop funding for the new strategy to be misinterpreted as a lack of support for American troops. In two days of reporting on the House and Senate side, it is clear that Democratic leaders are more worried about being tagged as anti-G.I. than being penalized by liberals for not doing all they can to end the war. Their posture may change, but for now, what seems likely is that the Democrats will do no more than put together a nonbinding resolution that would show disapproval.

Further, it is unclear to me that the Congress can easily assert itself in the matter of troop deployment.  I am unaware of a case in which Congressional action precluding a President from deploying troops when the President, acting in his constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief was set on such a move (if anyone knows of such a case, please leave a comment).  This is what I was getting at in my post on this topic on Sunday.  While I would not dispute that Congress has the constitutional right to try and force the President’s hand on the issue (there are sufficient Article I, Section 8 powers to use, not to mention the War Powers Act could, theoretically, come into play), but such action would require substantial bipartisan resoluteness on the issue.  Since the Democrats themselves are not unified on how to proceed, Senator Kennedy’s bluster is ultimately of little practical significance.

It is worth noting that public sentiment is in opposition to the “surge” idea and I have significant doubts as both to its likely efficacy but also to what the actual goal of the policy is in concrete terms (as I noted here and here).

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Filed under: Iraq, US Politics | |

2 Comments

  1. Hi, Dr. T. The Center for American Progress has some historical background on “Congressional Limitations and Requirements for Military Deployments and Funding” here

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/01/military_deployments.html

    that you might find useful.

    This is an issue on which we loony liberals and you sensible, small-government conservatives actually agree. I just hope the time-space continuum doesn’t rupture. :-) I have a first draft of what threatens to be a much longer rant on the subject here:

    http://www.mahablog.com/2007/01/10/manisfesto/

    Comment by maha — Wednesday, January 10, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

  2. Many thanks. I had seen a ref to the report after I had written this post last night but have been too swamped to get to it today-perhaps tonight.

    Cheers.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Wednesday, January 10, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

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