Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bipartisan Resolution Makes Iraq Recommendations

We can imagine how a challenge to the "unitary executive" theory -- especially when it comes to a president's conduct of a war -- will work out.

The Senate set the stage on Wednesday for a direct clash with President Bush over the war, with two senior Democrats and a prominent Republican introducing a symbolic measure to declare that the administration's plan to send additional troops to Iraq runs counter to the national interest.

The resolution, proposed by Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, both Democrats, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican, would not be binding, and the White House said it would have no effect on Mr. Bush’s plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

The Senate resolution minces no words, declaring that "it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq." But it goes well beyond a simple statement of opposition. Drawing heavily from the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, it calls for an acceleration of the training of Iraqi forces and the use of U.S. troops to secure Iraq's borders to prevent meddling by its neighbors.

It requests an "appropriately expedited timeline" for the transfer of internal security duties to the Iraqi government, and it urges the administration to "engage nations in the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally-sponsored peace and reconciliation process."

The measure will come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after Tuesday's State of the Union address and is likely to be reported out for action in the full Senate the following week. A few lawmakers, as well as antiwar activists, have decried the resolution as toothless, but its sponsors said yesterday that a strong bipartisan vote would have a resounding impact.

"The single most important thing to do is generate a consensus here in the United States Congress," Biden said. "I cannot believe that the president of the United States would not pay heed to a bipartisan resolution" from the Senate.

It depends on your definition of "pay heed", I guess.

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