Dems eye limiting '02 war authorization
Dems eye limiting '02 war authorization
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer 48 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats pledged renewed efforts
Sunday to curtail the Iraq war, suggesting they will
seek to limit a 2002 measure authorizing President
Bush's use of force against Saddam Hussein.
The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee said the proposal had little chance of
succeeding. "I think the president would veto it and
the veto would be upheld," said Sen. Richard Lugar
(news, bio, voting record) of Indiana.
A day after Republicans foiled a Democratic bid to
repudiate Bush's deployment of 21,500 additional
combat troops to Iraq, Senate Democrats declined to
embrace measures being advanced in the House that
would attach conditions to additional funding for
Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), who chairs
the Armed Services Committee, said Democratic senators
would probably seek to capitalize on wavering
Republicans to limit the "wide-open authorization"
Congress gave Bush in 2002.
"We will be looking at a modification of that
authorization in order to limit the mission of
American troops to a support mission instead of a
combat mission, and that is very different from
cutting off funds," said Levin, D-Mich.
Sen. Joe Biden, a 2008 presidential candidate who
leads the foreign relations panel, said the 2002
authorization should be repealed to restate the
president's authority and clarify the mission of U.S.
troops in Iraq.
"I've been working with some of my colleagues to try
to convince them that that's the way to go ... make it
clear that the purpose that he has troops in there is
to, in fact, protect against al-Qaida gaining chunks
of territory, training the Iraqi forces, force
protection and for our forces," said Biden, D-Del.
The Democratic-controlled Senate failed to force
debate on a nonbinding resolution opposing the troop
buildup. The 56-34 vote fell four short of the 60
needed, but Democrats quickly claimed victory, noting
that a majority of senators seven of them
Republicans effectively voted against the
After a week of contentious debate in Congress, the
White House scoffed at Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (news, bio, voting record)'s claim that the
U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 has become "the worst
foreign policy mistake" in U.S. history.
"The war is tough, but the solution is not to get
out," press secretary Tony Snow said. "It is to
provide the kinds of resources and reinforcements our
forces need to get the job done, and at the same time
say to the Iraqis `You guys got to step up.'"
Snow said it was important to remove Saddam from power
and noted that a majority of senators voted in 2002 to
authorize force in Iraq.
He said Bush should not see votes in Congress in
opposition of his new Iraqi strategy as a rebuke. "The
strategy has barely had a chance to begin working,"
The House passed a nonbinding resolution Friday that
rejected the president's 21,500-troop buildup in Iraq.
The vote put Bush on the defensive going into a far
more consequential confrontation over paying for the
House Democrats have said they will attempt to place
restrictions on Bush's request for an additional $93
billion for the military in an effort to make it
impossible for him to deploy all 21,500 additional
Levin said limiting the 2002 war authorization would
sidestep constitutional questions. Some legal experts
have said that restricting money or attaching
conditions could arguably encroach on Bush's powers as
commander in chief to control tactics and operations.
"One thought is that we should limit the mission to a
support mission in other words, an anti-terrorist
mission to go after al-Qaida in Iraq, to support and
train the Iraqi army, to protect our own diplomatic
personnel and other personnel in Iraq," Levin said.
Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I.,
agreed. Senate Democrats are "sitting down already ...
and trying to work out a new approach," he said.
Snow said the president understands the importance of
debate about the war on Capitol Hill and understands
lawmakers' anxiety about the war.
"What I would say to members of Congress is: Calm down
and take a look at what's going on, and ask yourself a
simple question: If you support the troops, would you
deny them the reinforcements they think are necessary
to complete the mission?'"
Levin was on "Fox News Sunday," Reed spoke on NBC's
"Meet the Press," Snow and Reid appeared on CNN's
"Late Edition," and Biden and Lugar were interviewed
on "Face the Nation" on CBS.