“We’re in a position to insist on a procedure for considering these matters that we think is fair to us,” said Mr. McConnell, who has been negotiating the framework of the debate with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader. “We can’t dictate the outcome necessarily, but we’re insistent upon a process that we are comfortable with.”
Of course what McConnell is requiring to allow the vote to go forward is that Democrats also allow votes on two Republican resolutions which are much less harsh than the version Democrats want passed.
Majority Leader Reid's response was, well, filled with irony which apparently he completely missed:
Mr. Reid responded that the Republican leadership was essentially filibustering a debate of Iraq policy to avoid a judgment on Mr. Bush.
Maybe I'm missing the point, but how is requiring all three resolutions be allowed for vote "limiting debate" but ramming one through without the other two being allowed for vote not limiting debate?
But that's not really the point is it?
As I understand the Constitution, and I'm obviously summarizing for simplicity's sake, Congress decides who we fight and the Executive (CiC) decides how we fight.
I often hear Congressional opponents claim that they have a right to debate. Certainly, within the context of the Constitutional power they have to make the determination of who we fight by authorizing the use of force or declaring war, that's correct. But after that obligation is fulfilled, following appropriate debate, the onus and decision making shift to the CiC or Executive. And it is he or she, in conjunction with the civilian leadership within the administration, as well as military leadership, who decide how to fight the conflict Congress authorized.
What, pray tell, are these resolutions, non-binding though they may be, but an attempt to intrude on the "how to fight" job of the Executive?
What Mr. McConnell should be doing is attempting to block all of the ill-begotten resolutions by citing that point. If Congressional Democrats really want to do something about Iraq, make them vote, on the record, to cut funding for the war. Make them take ownership as Sen. Feingold seems willing to do. Make them, in essence, put up or shut up instead of playing procedural ring-around-the-rosy in an attempt to come up with a less harsh compromise resolution.
Sometimes, even in a body famous for it, compromise isn't the best alternative available.
The Congress determines quite a bit of the how to fight - they set regulations governing military conduct, for example. That’s a pretty significant "how." On a slightly different topic, if the surge can be characterized as a change in the scope of the war, then it seems reasonable that the Congress can disallow it (Congress sets the scope, and always has - see the Flying Fish case decided by CJ Marshall)
Dear jpe, Flying Fish seems, on my admittedly shallow first reading, to be a "breach rather than observance" ruling. I gotta go with McQ on this one. I also take issue with your surge characterization. A change in scope would be extension of activity to other areas (geographical) rather than a shift in pure numbers and RoE. Seemingly, by what appears to be your definition of scope, each tactical decision would have to be reviewable by the Congress. Facially absurd. While I would never dream of reprimanding the Congress for nattering on uselessly the fact remains that they authorized the use of force. Kvetching and "in hindsight"-ing do not advance the current state of affairs. Musashi spoke to this. Give him a bid. Fun and deep, and those two do not often go together.
uncle pinky: the question, I believe, is whether Congress has the authority to limit the numerical and/or strategic scope of a war. In other words, would they have the authority to limit military action to, say, a peacekeeping mission, or to an engagement provided that no more than N troops are engaged. I claim no special expertise in this area, but I would think that they could do that. If they could, then legislation codifying that judgment would be just like any other statute: it would repeal the initial authorization of military force to the extent of subsequent contrary legislation. (this presupposes the Constitutionality of the War Powers Act, of course)
If nothing else, the Bush administration has given a lot of grist for interesting discussions of grey-area ConLaw.
If Congressional Democrats really want to do something about Iraq, make them vote, on the record, to cut funding for the war. Make them take ownership as Sen. Feingold seems willing to do.
This won’t happen and the Republican Party will continue to be the proud owners of the war. Given today’s grisly headlines from Iraq, that isn’t a very appealing prospect to some Republicans, especially those facing elections in 2008 and those from blue states.
McConnell and McCain may be successful in blocking the dreaded, but toothless, non-binding resolution, and perhaps rightfully so under the powers enumerated in the Constitution.
Unfortunately for them, they can’t block the daily headlines of continuing carnage in the streets of Baghdad. By the time McCain hits the campaign trail he, and the Republican Party, will be indelibly associated with the images arriving every day in people’s homes on the television screen.