Congress Could Be Forced to Vote on Iraq Today

A pair of amendments from a California Democrat would prevent future on-the-ground troops and military spending in Iraq.

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, place their bags on a truck as they prepare to board buses later in the evening to fly home to Fort Hood, Texas after being one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq on December 15, 2011 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Today the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after eight years of war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 
National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
June 19, 2014, 9:24 a.m.

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.

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