Dems abandon war authority provision
Dems abandon war authority provision
By DAVID ESPO and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press
Writers 4 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Top House Democrats retreated Monday from
an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for
taking military action against Iran as the leadership
concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White
House over the
Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting
record) and other members of the leadership had
decided to strip from a major military spending bill a
requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress
before moving against Iran.
Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned
about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the
change in strategy.
The developments occurred as Democrats pointed toward
an initial test vote in the House Appropriations
Committee on Thursday on the overall bill, which would
require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq
by Sept. 1, 2008, if not earlier. The measure also
provides nearly $100 billion to pay for fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The White House has issued a veto threat against the
measure, and Vice President Dick Cheney attacked its
supporters in a speech, declaring they "are telling
the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out."
Top Democrats disagreed sharply.
Pelosi issued a written statement that said the vice
president's remarks prove that "the administration's
answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops
and more treasure from the American people."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting
record), D-Nev., said in a statement that America was
less safe today because of the war. The president
"must change course, and it's time for the Senate to
demand he do it," he added.
The Iran-related proposal stemmed from a desire to
make sure Bush did not launch an attack without going
to Congress for approval, but drew opposition from
numerous members of the rank and file in a series of
closed-door sessions last week.
Rep. Shelley Berkley (news, bio, voting record),
D-Nev., said in an interview there is widespread fear
in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking
nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting
hostility about the Jewish state.
"It would take away perhaps the most important
negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to
Iran," she said of the now-abandoned provision.
"I didn't think it was a very wise idea to take things
off the table if you're trying to get people to modify
their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way,"
said Rep. Gary Ackerman (news, bio, voting record) of
Several officials said there was widespread opposition
to the proposal at a closed-door meeting last week of
conservative and moderate Democrats, who said they
feared tying the hands of the administration when
dealing with an unpredictable and potentially hostile
regime in Tehran.
Public opinion has swung the way of Democrats on the
issue of the war. More than six in 10 Americans think
the conflict was a mistake the largest number yet
found in AP-Ipsos polling.
But Democrats have struggled to find a compromise that
can satisfy both liberals who oppose any funding for
the military effort and conservatives who do not want
to unduly restrict the commander in chief.
"This supplemental should be about supporting the
troops and providing what they need," said Rep. Dan
Boren (news, bio, voting record), D-Okla., on Monday
upon returning from a trip to Iraq. Boren said he
plans to oppose any legislation setting a clear
deadline for troops to leave.
In his speech, Cheney chided lawmakers who are
pressing for tougher action on Iran to oppose the
president on the Iraq War.
"It is simply not consistent for anyone to demand
aggressive action against the menace posed by the
Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a
retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies
dramatically emboldened and Israel's best friend, the
United States, dangerously weakened," he said.