Members of Congress wary about further American engagement in Iraq may get the opportunity Thursday night to go on the record with their disapproval.
Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California plans to introduce two Iraq-related amendments to the 2015 defense appropriations bill later today, which would prevent the U.S. from spending money connected to the Use of Military Force Against Iraq resolution and for deploying on-the-ground troops in Iraq (except to protect the American Embassy) beyond 2014.
“It’s very important that we not repeat this, and I think members of Congress should exercise our constitutional responsibility and vote up or down, regardless of what actions are taken,” Lee said Wednesday.
While Lee acknowledged that President Obama has ruled out combat troops on the ground, she still wants Congress to weigh in, even if action is limited to military strikes. “It’s up to Congress to make sure we voice the opinion of the American people, and that’s why we should insist any type of contemplation of military action should be brought to Congress for a vote,” she said.
Additionally, Lee will offer similar amendments regarding military operations in Afghanistan.
A contingent of antiwar Democrats and Republicans have previously backed such measures, such as Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who plans to support Lee’s amendments. He says Congress has been silent on such matters.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, and even though Saddam was an evil man, he had order in the country. There is no order now. It is total — it’s just a total collapse over there now, with different factions warring against each other,” Jones said. “I don’t believe anything we would do other than diplomatic efforts would bring any resolution.”
So far, there hasn’t been a loud and vocal backlash from progressive House Democrats on potential actions that President Obama could take on Iraq. Many in his own party are willing to give him slack — this is the president who saw his political star rise, in part, because of his early opposition to the war.
“I think Obama has been dealt a pretty lousy hand by his predecessor, and there are consequences to the actions we took when Bush was president,” Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said. “It’s tough, but I pray the president doesn’t get sucked into yet another war.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refrained from endorsing Lee’s amendments, but said Thursday, “I salute her action in bringing it to the floor. I don’t know if it will win or if it will prevail — it will become the law of the land, but it’s certainly a worthy discussion”
Votes on defense appropriation amendments will start in the early evening.