Can Congress Stop the Escalation?
by Matt Stoller, Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:41:22 PM EST
This is a good and important question. If Bush really wants to escalate the war and will ignore anyone and everyone to do so, is it possible for Congress to stop him? Joe Biden says no. He told the President 'no' last month, after the election, which gave Bush the greenlight. But is it really true?
I'm no lawyer, but this isn't a legal question, really. It's a question of politics and willpower. Scarecrow, in two great posts, has pointed out that the surge into Iraq means pulling troops out of Afghanistan, and that there really is only one option for a President who simply won't respect the rule of law or Congressional authority.
Bush has made the choice very stark. Congressional leaders can choose to help him lose the war in Iraq even more quickly and with more bloodshed while also losing the war in Afganistan and allowing the Taliban to fully recover, or they can stop him with the one real remedy that the founders put in place for institutional conflict of this sort. It's not a choice any of us should welcome, and frankly, this problem is bipartisan.
But that's the choice. Biden is wrong. Bush can be stopped. The public voted for a Congress that would stop him. We know Bush is going to keep giving Congress the middle finger until the pressure rises to a boiling point. The question is will the boiling point arrive within two years.
Update: Rep. Brad Miller has a take in the comments:
The premise of the War Powers Resolution is that the Constitution requires the "collective judgment" of the President and Congress to introduce armed forces "into hostilities," or to continue the "use of force in hostilities."
Dick Cheney now says that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 is an unconstitutional infringement on the authority of the President, but the Bush Administration sought the Iraq war resolution to authorize the use of military force in Iraq under the War Powers Resolution.
What our armed forces are now doing in Iraq has little to do with the authorization in the Iraq war resolution, of course.
When Congress acted under the War Powers Resolution to authorize military action in Lebanon in 1998, it only authorized American forces to remain for 18 months. In 1993, Congress acted under the War Powers Resolution to require that forces be withdrawn from Somalia by March 31, 1994.
Biden has recently said we may need to revisit the Iraq war resolution. Interesting idea.