The Latest On The Iraq Supplemental

Politico reports that the latest proposal Congressional Dems are floating is the short term funding approach:

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.) outlined a new plan for an Iraq funding bill in private meetings Thursday afternoon, congressional aides said. The plan would split the now vetoed supplemental spending bill into two bills, one that would provide two months of funding for the Iraq War and another that would fund the agricultural programs contained in the earlier bill, aides said.

This will make some happy and I admit I have no objection to it. But no one seems to be talking about setting a date certain when the Iraq Debacle will NOT be funded. It does not have to be in any legislation. It need only be announced Democratic policy. You know my drill on this.

The other development is the Byrd-Clinton deauthorization proposal:

In remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that she and Senator Robert Byrd will introduce legislation to end authority for the war in Iraq. The legislation will propose October 11, 2007 -- the five year anniversary of the original resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq -- as the expiration date for that resolution.

I have written on the deauthorization idea before, and while I find that a fair reading of the intent of the Framers makes the decision to start or end wars solely the perogative of the Congress, the argument is gray at best:

Would a repeal of the Iraq War Authorization be subject to Presidential veto? I believe it would not be. The argument that it would be would be based on Article 1, Section 7, of the Constitution:

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Admittedly, the text seems clear. Every "Vote" shall be presented to the President. The problem is the statements of the Founders. For example, James Madison said:

[I]t is necessary to adhere to the "fundamental doctrine of the Constitution that the power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

And Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 69, said:

It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies -- all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.

To provide the President the power to veto a Congressional decision to END a war would run contrary to what Madison and Hamilton were preaching - that a President can not maintain a state of war. This is an occasion, in my opinion, where the plain meaning clearly runs contrary to the original understanding of the Constitution.

Pretty words from me no? But effective for ending the war? Uh, no. There is a reason I have cheerleaded a NOT funding date certain approach for ending the Iraq Debacle. Because that is the power that can be brought to bear now without debate or confusion. It is what will work.

Senator Clinton said:

The American people have called for change, the facts on the ground demand change, the Congress has passed legislation to require change. It is time to sunset the authorization for the war in Iraq. If the president will not bring himself to accept reality, it is time for Congress to bring reality to him.

Very true Senator. The way to do this is to NOT fund the war after a date certain. That is the Reid-Feingold framework.

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    Your arguement seems (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri May 04, 2007 at 09:54:58 AM EST
    to be getting traction where the people are, if only because McJoan et al. are pushing it so hard.

    What do you think the baseline number of Democratic Senators would be for adopting a deadline as the caucus position? 45 seems like a good number to me.

    I don't really know (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri May 04, 2007 at 09:58:39 AM EST
    Senator Byrd's bill (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kindness on Fri May 04, 2007 at 09:59:03 AM EST
    I respect that his revoking of the Use of Force because he, in his wisdom, voted against it the first time.  It doesn't have a chance in hell of over-riding the guaranteed veto, but at this point distinguishing Democratic plans to Republicans may be all we can get for the duration.

    I'm less a fan of sending a 2 month authorization.  I'm more a fan of sending a timeline bill back to him again, even though he'd veto it again.  It's the Repubs who are starting to squirm.  Granted, they'd squirm more in 2 months, but I doubt they'd squirm 67 votes more in the Senate.

    Can the President veto this? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Pneumatikon on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:26:10 AM EST
    I respect that his revoking of the Use of Force because he, in his wisdom, voted against it the first time.  It doesn't have a chance in hell of over-riding the guaranteed veto, but at this point distinguishing Democratic plans to Republicans may be all we can get for the duration.

    The Senate authorizes or it does not authorize... At least that's what I thought. It's not legislation. What's the law on this?


    Help us on this one BTD... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Teresa on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:28:40 AM EST
    I read the link from last night's debate thread to your January post. It seemed in that post that you said the Presindent can't veto this. Did I understand correctly?

    In this Post (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by squeaky on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:38:41 AM EST
    BTD writes:

    Would a repeal of the Iraq War Authorization be subject to Presidential veto? I believe it would not be. The argument that it would be would be based on Article 1, Section 7, of the Constitution

    squeaky...if BTD is right (none / 0) (#10)
    by Teresa on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:42:52 AM EST
    (and I have always trusted his legal interpretations) then this could actually work? Would it just require a normal majority vote? I am confused as to why no one has gone along with Sen. Byrd before now if this is true.

    From What Dodd Says (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by squeaky on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:50:46 AM EST
    The war can still continue, even if Byrd-Clinton get their bill passed.

    The only way to stop it is to defund. Feingold-Reid or no more appropriations.

    I think a car running out of gas and then sending a tow truck is a good analogy.

    If that same car were made illegal it would still run as long as there was gas in the tank.


    Well (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri May 04, 2007 at 11:10:38 AM EST
    My saying it as an academic exercise and it being accepted are two different things.

    What is accepted is that the Congress can NOT fund the war and end it in that way.

    I take the surer route as the preferred one.


    Byrd-Clinton (none / 0) (#28)
    by talex on Fri May 04, 2007 at 03:56:44 PM EST
    There is no reason both Byrd-Clinton and a bill with 60 day funding with benchmarks cannot be sent up at or near the same time. They accomplishes two different things.

    As for your idea of defunding the war - the public is not yet behind that - so it could end up being political suicide and actually leading to more wars and more deaths in the long run -  not to mention many other things we do not want to see. Not a good gamble.


    Go Dodd (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by squeaky on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:24:36 AM EST
    Senator Christopher J. Dodd, who has worked to stake a more aggressive stance on withdrawal than most of the other Democratic candidates, released a statement downplaying the significance of Mrs. Clinton's measure to deauthorize:

    I support the efforts of Senators Byrd and Clinton to de-authorize the war in that we can all agree that the authorization has been de facto null and void because there were no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein has been out of power for years.

    While I applaud this effort, sadly, it will not change the President's course in Iraq. There is only one binding and responsible way to end this war.

    He reiterated his support for the Feingold-Reid legislation, which would not only set a withdrawal timeline but also ultimately cut off war funds.


    This is an interesting idea. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Pneumatikon on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:30:44 AM EST
    It forces the President to stew in his own juices, and it also forces the issue into the news in a regular cycle.

    One thing I like about these Democratic leaders is they're very subtle and canny. We have to keep in mind, of course, that we're dealing with a hostage situation here, and we have to protect our soldiers from this maniac.

    mataliandy commented on k/o's fallacy of (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by conchita on Fri May 04, 2007 at 11:47:18 AM EST
    implied constraint diary that congress needs to write a bill with the following wording:

       $[dollar amount] is to be provided through [date] in $[smaller dollar amount] increments every [number] days to be used for the safe redeployment of our troops out of Iraq.

        $[other dollar amount] will be provided every [other number] days for diplomatic efforts to enable the democratically elected government of Iraq to enjoy the regional support that will allow the transition to an autonomous government without the need for US troops [optional wording: other than a maximum of [n] troops to be included in a United Nations peacekeeping effort].

        Prior to each funding date described above, a progress report will be provided to the US Congress by [the United Nations or other appropriate, legitimate third-party specified by Congress] verifying the accomplishments of the associated milestones set forth below.

            Whereas the failure to meet non-withdrawal milestones increases the risks to our troops by either increasing local or regional instability or by failing to reduce it,

            Therefore if in any disbursement period, any non-withdrawal milestone is unmet, funding for non-withdrawal milestones will be decreased, the funds for withdrawal will be increased by the same amount, and the milestone for the number of troops withdrawn in the subsequent period will increase accordingly. The amount by which funding will change will be determined by the Congress based on the severity of the shortfall in meeting non-withdrawal milestones.

            Also Therefore, if any withdrawal milestones is not met, all funds listed above for non-withdrawal activities will be immediately applied to ensure complete withdrawal of US troops within [1/2 or 1/4 of the time initially specified]

        [list of verifiable milestones such as:

            * specific numbers of troops brought home,
            * specific numbers of hours of electricity to a specific %age of the Iraqi population per day,
            * specific %age of Iraqi people employed in the rebuilding of the infrastructure, etc.

        Make them very, very clear, achievable, easily verified goals]

        Upon enactment of this legislation, [title of appropriate person from each branch of armed services] will provide to the US Congress a comprehensive accounting of costs for withdrawal from Iraq of each 10,000 troops and such "sensitive" equipment that may generally be deployed with that number of troops, said report to be provided no later than [date].

    I liked the positive approach to his reasoning - i.e. milestones based on fulfillment of promises made to iraqis (electricity) rather than imposing our expectations (hydrocarbon legislation) on them.  And I thought the idea of bringing in a 3rd party to determine how effectively milestones were being met was a good idea, although I wonder if Iraq's neighbors might be more appropriate than the U.N.  It also brings a greater aspect of accountablility in to the picture.  

    How likely is it any of our reps might actually read this and consider this idea?  Hmmm, not very, but I did think it deserved greater exposure here.


    Veto (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Edger on Fri May 04, 2007 at 11:54:51 AM EST
    Heh (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:02:25 PM EST
    See my latest E.

    I thought you'd being doing something like that. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Edger on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:03:59 PM EST
    Even if Bush didn't veto (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Edger on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:11:10 PM EST
    a bill like that he would just signing statement away 90% of it. Trying to cut a deal with George Bush is like trying to cut a deal with Ted Bundy. Even if you get one it's not worth the paper it's printed on.

    And he'll do yucky things with my corpse! (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:12:09 PM EST
    Bush or Bundy? (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:16:38 PM EST
    Bush! Bundy is out of picture now (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:18:55 PM EST
    but he left a few peers behind ;(

    Heh. (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Edger on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:25:40 PM EST
    He was attractive, smart, and had a future in politics. He was also one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. [He] screamed his innocence until his death in the electric chair
    No, not Bush... Bundy.

    Ted Bundy was an original rethublican: in 1973 he became assistant to Ross Davis, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party.


    I liked what I saw this morning (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 04, 2007 at 11:57:49 AM EST
    Even if Clinton is attempting to find a way to join the Out of Iraq Now Caucus to nose ahead of OBama and have it appear to be all her idea, fine...just join....at this point I really don't care how they come to Jesus or how spotless and starched their whipple is.  I'm fine with the short leash bill too because it is going to be a bit painful for people who have been arrogant and avoided the painful reality of this war by simply looking the other way at pretty things.....the president, the money soaked contractors...they need to lay awake a few nights too pondering how this might not turn out okeydokey for them after all while they "f" all the small time players in this like soldiers and Iraqis.

    Tracy... (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Teresa on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:08:23 PM EST
    at this point I really don't care how they come to Jesus or how spotless and starched their whipple is

    Me neither. My nephew leaves June 22 for his third time. I just want out. Whatever it takes.


    I'm sorry Teresa (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 04, 2007 at 12:16:41 PM EST
    My hope is that those going will soon be set to work coming home.  Coming home is going to be a large task and require lots of manpower.  I can live with losing my husband to that task, I can find a way to go on from there.  Losing him though to Bush's dark designs, I'll need lots of therapy!

    Taking a quick break to peruse dkos, briVT's DC (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by conchita on Fri May 04, 2007 at 02:43:03 PM EST

    First, the quick update: I spoke to some people, and the biggest impression I got was that the leadership of our party is totally committed to our struggle. Multiple people told me both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are heart-n-soul on our side.

    The immediate situation is unclear to everyone. It's a lot more complicated than the media reports are making it out; they are stuck on a "Democrats cave" or "Democrats remain stubborn" paradigm. But there's a lot more confusion and fear on the GOP side than they like to point out. I heard stories about GOP caucus meetings where some Members were pleading with their leadership to make their concerns known to the White House. The pressure is really on in this one.

    The other big impression is the sheer number of moving parts to this fight. There are so many different paths being talked about and pursued; the media focus on this one aspect of it, again, misses the point. "Benchmarks" are but one facet of all the discussions going on, and even the supplemental is only one part of the big picture. There are literally dozens of different directions being talked about, all with one goal: restore some sanity to our foreign policy and get out of the middle of the civil war in Iraq. I'm based in Boston, not DC, so I'm more used to the atmosphere of the activists; I was actually surprised at how strongly people in the building feel about this, as well. If possible, many of them are even stronger in their feelings than many activists because they have to live it every day.

    So, the pressure is building all over the place, and the GOP is feeling it (ignore the media's repeating of old narratives of "Democratic disunity/GOP unity"). As I said, it's a very, very fluid situation, and anything we can do to push the dynamic in our direction is great.

    Emphasis mine.  Link.

    Probably important to note the (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by oculus on Fri May 04, 2007 at 04:07:07 PM EST
    DK diarist stated that "as many of you know" he works for John Kerry.

    thanks, oculus, as usual moving too fast nt (none / 0) (#30)
    by conchita on Fri May 04, 2007 at 04:27:19 PM EST
    I just thought the way the diarist dropped that (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Fri May 04, 2007 at 04:46:56 PM EST
    in was odd.  I'm in favor of full disclosure each and every time a paid political staff person posts.

    Hmmm... (none / 0) (#8)
    by chemoelectric on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:37:21 AM EST
    Hmmm... The question I have is whether either of these approaches will make Bush withdraw the forces, and if so which would be more likely the work? De-funding, probably. Even better might be to de-authorize effective the same date as de-funding.

    In either of these cases Congress must be psychologically prepared to impeach Bush forthwith should he leave the troops in place without food or bullets, which I think he might well do. On account of this it seems prudent to psychologically prep wishy-washy 'Republicans' as much as possible, since we will need them (in the Senate). They only need to be prepped enough to want to oust a man who leaves starving, defenseless troops in Iraq, waiting for Congress to blink.

    There actually is some advantage in Democrats 'doing the wrong thing' at times, so they and the 'Republicans' can watch the dip in approval ratings and see how the ratings rise again when combativeness towards Bush returns. Merely pointing out that this would happen just doesn't have the same punch-to-the-gut feeling.

    As for the general problem of newspapers saying 'Dems cave' when it isn't happening, I suspect that reporters are getting 'The Dems will cave' from their sources and passing that along, but that these sources aren't reliable anymore--that they were 'reliable' in the past only because you could count on the Democrats to cave in on almost anything.

    some Repubs are indicating (none / 0) (#11)
    by annefrank on Fri May 04, 2007 at 10:47:33 AM EST
    they'd support benchmarks. But both parties must know it's a joke to expect the dysfunctional Iraqi government to make political changes when their politicians are going on vacation for 2 months. But how does this serve Repubs? other than the appearance they're "working with the Dems."  Bush's "acceptable level of violence" is constantly changing and won't "the Decider" continue deciding "progress"?
    btw - how are Shiites and Sunnis supposed to resolve this politically when their "politics" are based on centuries old religious differences?

    BTD, assuming this is correct:: (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Fri May 04, 2007 at 11:14:53 AM EST
    The entire purpose of The Federalist Papers was to gain popular support for the then-proposed Constitution. Some would call it the most significant public-relations campaign in history; it is, in fact, studied in many public relations classes as a prime example of how to conduct a successful campaign

    Attribution is Oklahoma School of Law website

    I gather your point is the plain meaning of the Constitution trumps The Federalist.