January 30, 2007

War Power


From AP: Congress to test bounds of its war power.

President Bush may be the decision maker, but the Democratic-controlled Congress holds the purse strings. Whether to yank them shut when it comes to the conflict in Iraq, and under what conditions, is the question facing newly empowered majority Democrats.

No one challenges the notion that Congress can stop a war by canceling its funding. In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged Congress to back up its objections to Bush's plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq by zeroing out the war budget.

Underlying Cheney's gambit is the consensus understanding that such a drastic move is doubtful because it would be fraught with political peril.

But there are other legislative options to force the war's end, say majority Democrats and some of Bush's traditional Republican allies.

The alternatives range from capping the number of troops permitted in Iraq to cutting off funding for troop deployments beyond a certain date or setting an end date for the war.

"The Constitution makes Congress a coequal branch of government. It's time we start acting like it," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who is chairing a hearing Tuesday on Congress' war powers and forwarding legislation to eventually prohibit funding for the deployment of troops to Iraq.

His proposal, like many others designed to force an end to U.S. involvement in the bloody conflict, is far from having enough support even to come up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Closer to that threshold is a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush's proposal to send 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is "not in the national interest." The Senate could take up that measure early next month.

But some senators, complaining that the resolution is symbolic, are forwarding tougher bills.

Posted by Forkum at January 30, 2007 03:54 PM